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Barbados’ Prosperous Past and Prolific Present Cruises to a Festive Future

he year was 1909 when The West India Committee started promoting cruise itineraries to the Caribbean with the sole purpose of increasing public awareness about the ease and affordable access to the West Indies by cruise ship. Barbados soon became one of the more popular ports of call, welcoming its first organized cruise in 1910 when the 8,000-ton Ortana arrived on January 18th from Southampton on a voyage that began two weeks earlier on January 5th. This was the first all-inclusive Caribbean cruise to the region. Following their stop in Barbados, passengers were transferred to a yacht and continued their Caribbean cruise. During this era, travel for health and wellness were the primary motivators. The cruise package was advertised as offering travelers “a new, healthful, refreshing and entirely delightful holiday.” During the infancy of the cruise industry, ships arrived early in the morning and departed at midnight. With many itineraries featuring at least a full day in port with ships departing late, visitors were able to experience a multi-faceted encounter with the island. Shore excursions had a magical formula, which highlighted the diversity of Barbados. The island tour included shopping, lunch and a cross-country tour ending at a spectacular beach. Visitors were then treated to supper and returned to the city to enjoy its nightlife that featured musical performances at some of the main theatres and entertainment at city hotels. Ships sailed away at midnight to the next Caribbean port. The cruise ship industry of the past provided Barbados with major exposure, which influenced the growth of long-stay arrivals to the island. Thanks to this successful history, Barbados continues to welcome several cruise liners bringing numerous visitors to its shores. The island also continues to attract many visitors for stay-over visits, with efforts particularly heating up during summer when cruise calls cool down. As it was in the past, Barbados’ diversity of experiences ensures 50 THIRD QUARTER 2019 | TRAVEL & CRUISE

constant day and nighttime activities guaranteed to enthrall the most discerning traveler. The Crop Over Festival celebration from early June to the first Monday in August each year is the island’s biggest cultural festival. It features weeks of music, art, craft and food, and culminates with one massive street party on Grand Kadooment Day filled with costumed revelers dancing for hours along a parade route. Often, the World’s Wealthiest Female Musician and Barbadian Cultural Ambassador Rihanna appears easily alongside her people enjoying the annual celebration. For visitors who cruise into the island for just one day, the newly created Festive Fridays party, a stone’s throw away from the cruise port, serves up a sample of the Crop Over Festival, inclusive of street parade with pulsating music. But Crop Over and Rihanna are just two of the most well-known features of Barbados. Here is a small sample of facts also unique to Barbados: •

Barbados remained a colony of England from its initial settlement in 1625 until Independence in 1966. It is the only island in the Caribbean never to have changed hands during the bitter British/European battles for colonies;

Barbados has the third-oldest Parliament in the British Commonwealth, dating back to 1639;

Rum (and the name “rum” or “rumbullion”) was created in Barbados, and the oldest rum—known as Mount Gay Rum—is still being manufactured today along with fine rums from other awarded distilleries;

Barbados is the only country visited by George Washington (later President George Washington) outside of North America in 1751;

The Treaty of Oistins that was negotiated and signed at The Mermaid Tavern in Oistins in Barbados in 1652, and its concept of “No Taxation without Representation” was the inspiration for the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and subsequently included in the American Declaration of Independence in 1775. A careful reading of the two documents would reveal that about half of the Treaty of Oistins has been incorporated into the American Declaration of Independence;

Profile for Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association

Travel & Cruise 3rd Quarter 2019