Although we knew that the MV Queen Victoria was not going to stop here, we all wished she had. None more than I as two of my friends Tony and Valerie Chapman were on board, promising to wave as they went by!
It’s a case of Economics as to whether a cruise ship stops at a destination or not. In the old days (1960s and before) St Helena saw a multitude of ships stopping for supplies, news and to let passengers on and off.
Since the opening of the Suez Canal and increasingly cheap air travel, these days have ended.
Cruise liners are reluctant to mention St Helena (or any other small destinations) as a stop off as the sea can sometimes prevent landing and supplies don’t need to be uploaded any more.
Making a promise to someone paying thousands of pounds for a cruise and then not fulfilling it, is a recipe for an unhappy customer.
St Helena welcomes in the region on 6 to 15 Cruise Ships per year at the moment, some are only small carriers, and others are huge, keeping the whole island busy, including sometimes, school kids as the school buses are used for tours on a busy cruise ship day.
These stops are immensely important to the island as they bring revenue; although not always much. Lack of time sometimes means that tourists are on the bus round the island and then back on the ship in a couple of hours.
Cruise Ship visits also bring much relished interaction with others. Being a small island of only 4200 folk, the locals (and those of us who are not local) love to chat to visitors and to proudly show them the island. The feedback from Cruise passengers over the time I have been here has constantly been incredibly positive. Not only contact with the islanders but the variety of scenery and the totally unspoilt feel of the place.
It’s a real shame that Cunard didn’t feel they had time to stop and say hello. They would have received a warm St Helena Welcome and an invitation to return next time they are passing!