Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cruise Ship Grand Mariner visits Statia

Oranjestad-St.Eustatius, Cruise ship Grand Mariner made a stop on Statia on its way from Saba to Nevis. It arrived on Statia around 1500 hrs on Thursday February 17 and sailed on FridayFebruary 18 around 2200 hrs.

The ship had 43 passengers and 17crew on board. On Friday morning around 9:00 am the passengers left the ship, 20 went on an island tour while the others went for walks through town and did some shopping. Members of the tourist office were on the pier to welcome them with some cold beverages and sweet island music was delivered by well known local deejay “run things”.

Grand Mariner was commissioned and built by Blount Boats of Warren, Rhode Island in 1998 and was totally refurbished in 2010 with new cabin configurations including new décor, new washrooms, new furniture, a renovated lounge etc. The passenger capacity is 96 divided amongst 48 cabins.

On friday evening there was some local entertainment on board. The aloï dancers (local female dance group) performed 4 dances. During one of these dances passengers and crew members were invited to join in and dance along with the group. This brought on so much laughter that some people had tears in their eyes. The band Joey and friends provided live entertainment singing oldie goldies which had some of the folks dancing while others gathered around and sang along with the band.

The St.Eustatius Tourism Development Foundation was pleased to have the Grand Mariner on Statia and all the passengers who visited the office were quite thrilled with the island saying it was so peaceful and full of history and calling the islanders very friendly. The commissioner of Tourism Mr. Julian Woodley and the acting Director of Tourism Mr. Charles Lindo presented captain Mike with a Flag of Statia while Public Relations Officer Ms. Makeba Mitchell handed out gift bags to him and his crew.

The Statia Tourist office is looking forward to welcoming the Grand Mariner in 2012 again as one of the new potential stops on the new cruising schedule.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Marion Haarsma, dive photographer visits Statia

Oranjestad-St.Eustatius, Dive photographer for one of the biggest Dive magazines in Holland “Onderwater Sport Journal” visited Statia to make exclusive new photos for the magazine.

Marion Haarsma a professional dive photographer for the past 31 years was on Statia from January 14 to 25 2011. Her main purpose for visiting Statia was to see what the island has to offer with regards to Dive tourism so she could write an elaborate article for the magazine. While on the island she spent 5 days at the Golden Rock Dive Center and 5 days at Scubaqua Dive Center, where she visited up to 30 dive sites.

“I was surprised at the rich variety of underwater life like: turtles, stingray, conch, barracuda, nurse shark and many other sea creatures (as I am quite a spoiled world traveler),” Marion said. Some of the sites were so amazing she asked to return to the site for a second dive. She also said that she was impressed with the man made objects underwater such as the wrecks, the anker and canons etc. “Both diving schools went out of their way to give me all the opportunity's to make good shots and fulfilled all my wishes she said.

In 2008 Statia was featured in the Onderwater Sport Journal when they ran a two page article on STENAPA (St.Eustatius National Park). Marion was so excited when STENAPA invited her to witness the turtle hatchlings leaving the nest on Zeelandia beach to make their way to sea and gladly accepted. She was able to make some really wonderful photographs of the hatchlings and said it was a truelly unforgetable experience.

Eventhough Marion had dived in various parts of the Caribbean such as Bahamas, Curacao, Bonaire just to name a few, she labelled Statia’s underwater world as “quite unique” as some of what she had seen here, she had never seen anywhere else in the Caribbean before. “All in all Statia was one big surprise to me”, she said. She has already made a beautiful dvd of her dives which was shown at the “Duikvaker “ dive fair in the Netherlands on February 5-6 2011.

The St.Eustatius Tourism Development Foundation is quite pleased to have had such a well known Diver/photographer in Statia’s waters and we look forward to the article in the OnderwaterSport Journal later this year, said Public Relations Officer Ms. Makeba Mitchell.