Seychelles has made a good start to the cruise industry in 2015 with three port calls to Port Victoria thus far. “Seven Seas Voyager” with 625 passengers and 453 crews docked in port on Monday January 5th along with “COSTA Neo Classica” with 673 passengers and 573 crews. “Island Sky” berthed in port on Wednesday January 7th with 91 passengers and 81 crew members. The higher number of cruise liners scheduled to visit Port Victoria during the 2014/15 season is testimony to the reputation of the country as tourism and cruise and super yacht- friendly destination.
From seven port calls by cruise liners during the 2012/13 season to 12 port calls during the 2013/14 season to 19 calls forecast for the 2014/15 season, Port Victoria remains an important cruise hub in the region. The trend is set to increase in the years ahead. The cruise sector remains an important industry in terms of the economic spill- over that is generated in the country.
The Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA) together with other local partners and stakeholders such as the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), the local Destination Management Companies (DMCs) and others, continue with its strategy to attract more cruise ships and super yachts to Port Victoria through its broader regional strategies and in collaboration with its international partners such as the Association of Ports of the Indian Ocean Islands (APIOI) of which SPA is a member.
The special effort and touches by SPA to convert the apron of Mahe Quay into a passenger reception terminal during the presence of cruise ships and super yachts in port have been appreciated and recognized by their operators. For instance, potted plants are used to decorate the apron, the cruise ships and their passengers are welcomed to the tune of live traditional entertainment by a local band and dancers. The local DMCs and other service providers have been instrumental and continue to improve service quality during the presence of cruise passengers in Port Victoria. STB staffs are always available at Mahe Quay to talk to and provide any assistance and information to the passengers and engage in promotional activities.
As part of the procedures to welcome cruise liners, the CEO of SPA and of STB, representing the Minister for Tourism and Culture, paid a courtesy call on the staff Captain of “Seven Seas Voyager” whereby there was an exchange of tokens. Courtesy calls by SPA and STB on the Captains are generally organized every time there is a cruise ship in port. The vessel’s flag is hoisted by SPA alongside the national and SPA flags as part of the welcoming rituals.
Also as part of the SPA and STB strategies to increase the scope of activities during the port calls by cruise liners and super yachts, SPA in collaboration with STB, the respective shipping agency and local DMCs encourages the vessels to visit other islands such as Praslin and La Digue in order to provide additional attractions to the visitors and in the process generate more bus.