Pier Review: New facility to service cruise ships, mega yachts
By David Blacklock
Infrastructure development—sexy, isn't it? But after all the recent rancour and huffpuffing over desalination plants, the hospital and various development projects, the grand opening of the new Tender Pier at the cruise ship dock, itself having undergone an extensive renovation, had an air of satisfied consummation.
The ethereal voices of the St George's Choristers swelled above the flapping of the sheltering tents as a crowd gathered to celebrate this new addition to the shipping infrastructure. Mr Ronnie Lettsome, chairman of the BVI Ports Authority addressing the crowd said that “The BVI is strategically placed to gain great benefit from the cruise line industry.” This sentiment was endorsed by V. Victor O'Neal, managing director of the Authority who said, “We intend to use the cruise ship dock and tender pier to their full potential.”
In addition to providing shore access to cruise ships anchored out on the Sir Francis Drake Channel, the new pier will also provide amenities to accommodate mega yachts and mini cruise ships. One benefit of the new pier is to reduce traffic pressure from the west end of Road Town. Previously, ships' tenders (lifeboats) unloading passengers did so at the Road Town ferry terminal, leading to chaos as taxis and safari buses attempted to pick up passengers for trips to Cane Garden Bay and other destinations.
The new tender pier in Road Town. Photo by Dan O'Connor.
Premier Ralph O'Neal, after giving a brief but fascinating history of ports in Tortola, told the assembled crowd, “The government tries its very best to accommodate the cruise ship industry,” and pointed out that “the BVI is the cheapest port of call for cruise ships.” The Premier exhorted Port Authority management and staff to “provide good service to visitors from the moment they arrive.”
“We have depended on the sea for a long time,” Premier O'Neal said, “and we must continue to take care of it.” Addressing concerns that the worldwide economic slump will harm the BVI as a tourist destination, he said “there will be more cruise ships come to the territory this season than last. Government will continue to encourage and provide good service to visitors who come to the BVI. We have a responsibility to keep our waters clean and clear,” the Premier said. “Because when visitors come, we may not have shopping, but we do have clean, clear water.”