“Carnival’s back”

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Carnival Fascination sailed back into the Bridgetown Port yesterday morning amidst much fanfare.

After an absence of about four months, the popular cruise ship, with 2 300 passengers on board, arrived to music from the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, a tuk band, dancing Mother Sally, tumbling Shaggy Bear, stiltman and cocktail concoctions from Barbados rum.

It was a welcome sight for the many tour operators and taxi drivers who operate in and around the Bridgetown Port, which teemed with activity as passengers set out on sightseeing trips, went shopping or headed to those beaches popular with visitors.

Last September, Carnival Cruise Lines cancelled all departures of Carnival Fascination, while the ship was chartered to the United States’ Federal Emergency Management Agency and used to house its workers assisting with relief work in Puerto Rico and some Caribbean islands devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

But yesterday, the 1 030 cabins were filled with cruise lovers from several countries, eager for the Caribbean experience.

Captain Renato Berdinelli was at the helm when the ship sailed from Puerto Rico to Barbados where some passengers disembarked to end their cruise, while others boarded here to begin their seven-day trip. Among them were Barbadians such as Assistant Superintendent of Police Leon Blades and his wife Marcia, and their friends Harclyde and Veronica Kirton.

The Blades were excited to be taking their fourth Carnival cruise, the belated 28th wedding anniversary celebration, which they missed last year when the cruise was cancelled at the last minute. It was Harclyde Kirton’s ninth Carnival cruise and his wife’s eighth.

As passengers disembarked, Harald Korndoerser, from Hamburg, Germany, waited patiently at dockside to board the ship to begin his cruise. He was full of praise for Barbados and Barbadians, having spent a few days on the island before.

“We are delighted to have Carnival back,” said director of cruise at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Cheryl Franklin.

“What is particularly exciting about Carnival’s return today is they have come back with a brand new ship, and we are certain that will actually drive demand for Barbados and the southern Caribbean” she added.

She said Barbados now had to create a “transcendent experience” for passengers coming off the ship, who would have been impacted by the new “wow” aboard Carnival Fascination. (GC)