[www.inewsguyana.com] – The National Geographic Cruise Ship, carrying 110 international passengers, served by a crew, also numbering 110, started a two-day inaugural visit to Guyana on Tuesday, September 24.
On hand to greet the captain, crew and passengers of the vessel, which is at present anchored in the Essequibo River, South of Hogg Island was a delegation of Government and Tourism officials led by Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce (acting) Irfaan Ali.
In brief remarks, the Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister expressed hope that though short, the visitors’ stay would be one that was ‘enjoyable, fruitful and amazing enough,’ and that they leave alert to the fact that they would have visited one of the 50 best destinations in this lifetime.
The Minister spoke of the fabled El Dorado-the City of Gold, but assured that Guyana was much more that El Dorado. Reflecting on all the positives that the country has to offer, the Tourism Minister pointed out that Guyana has the wonderful gift of nature.
Captain Oliver Kruess explained that the aim of the trip was to give the ship’s guests “a popular scientific interaction into Guyana.”
He also explained why the vessel only now visited, after it made several trips to South America more than 18 years ago, even though the National Explorer Cruise ship business has been in operation for more than 40 years.
“In those days, Guyana did not really have the infrastructure to host our guests, to actually bring a ship close in shore and offer activities off the shore… so traditionally we would just sail by,” Captain Kruess said.
“The ship would visit the Orinoco and enroute to the Amazon they would only visit French Guiana, Devil’s Island, and they always look along your coast and look into the rivers and it was always ‘gosh we would really like to come and explore’, and this year it becomes a fact,” he said.
Kruess noted that Guyana is a prime destination for such small expedition ships.
“There is a fleet of ships going from South, part of Argentine down to Antarctica, but all these ships have to come back at the end of the season, or like us before the season starts they have to go there, and like us they are all scrabbling for destinations that we can offer expedition activities along the coast in here and there are not many ships that have gone to Guyana, so it is exciting. It attracts guests and definitely you can expect that we will be back and others as well.”
There are four National Geographic explorers on board the cruise boat that would be filming the passengers’ interaction with the wildlife and visits to the various sites.