Ocean Princess cruises to Colombo

Friday, 11 October 2013 03:50 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A plaque exchange ceremony was held on board the cruise ship MV Ocean Princess in celebration of its maiden call to Colombo with 672 passengers yesterday. The agency services for this cruise line is provided by Malship (Ceylon) Ltd., a company representing many international shipping lines in the conventional and container shipping business. Ocean Princess is currently on a 38-day Western Mediterranean Cruise from Dover to Singapore (7 September to 15 October). Ocean Princess, formerly R Four, and Tahitian Princess, is an R-class cruise ship owned by Princess Cruise Liner. She mainly sails around the French Polynesian islands, Society Islands, Cook Islands and Marquesas Islands and often sails to Hawaii. In November 2009 the Tahitian Princess was renamed Ocean Princess to reflect a more global theme. Ocean Princess is an elegant ship that features superb dĂ©cor in the grand public rooms reminiscent of classic liner days. Over 60% of the rooms have outside balconies. It has two elegant restaurants, the Sterling SteakhouseSM and Sabatini’sSM, featuring menus that passengers’ taste buds will never forget. To mark the significance of this move to the SLPA, plaques were exchanged between the SLPA Chairman Dr. Priyath B. Wickrama and the Master of the cruise ship MV Ocean Princess Capt. Carlo Servillo in the presence of senior officials of SLPA and the officials of Malship (Ceylon) Ltd. Commenting on the significance of the occasion, Dr. Wickrama said: “The ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ vision is to drive tourism to new heights by doubling the hotel room capacity to 50,000 by 2016 with US$ 3 billion FDI. The Sri Lanka Tourism Strategy for the period 2011 to 2016, launched in November 2011, aims to welcome 2.5 million arrivals by 2016 which will increase tourism earnings by over five times to US$ 2.75 billion a year. The SLPA is fully poised to shoulder the development of this sector. “The SLPA has already taken the initiative to contribute to this endeavour of the Government. It will develop the Port of Galle to be the most sought-after cruise destination in Sri Lanka. Plans are afoot to fully develop the Port of Galle as a tourist port. To give you some recent statistics, Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals surged 26.1% in August 2013 from a year earlier to 100,224 and total arrivals up to August were up 14.3% to 711,446. The booming economy of the country resulting from the dawn of peace has created a conducive climate for a boost in the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. In this context, whilst working in tandem with the tourism sector, Sri Lankan ports have vitally important roles to play.” Expressing his views on the occasion, SLPA Managing Director Capt. Nihal Keppetipola said: “We have recently seen an increase in the cruise vessels arriving in the Port of Colombo, which was a very rare occurrence before 2009. I am also happy that tourist arrivals are increasing. This trend betokens a new era for the tourism industry in Sri Lanka which is on the threshold of an economic renaissance with huge maritime-related infrastructure development projects in the port sector.” “Therefore, it is important that our ports and coastal destinations are carefully managed and smartly promoted for the sustainable growth of this important market segment. This apart, in order for Sri Lanka to fully capitalise on this growing tourism sector, it is extremely necessary to examine the current trends and future directions of the worldwide cruise industry. I thank local operator Malship (Ceylon) Ltd. for their efforts in introducing Colombo to the itineraries of Princess Cruises,” he further said. Malship (Ceylon) Ltd. Managing Director Mackey Hashim also remarked at the ceremony: “Our principals are eager to help Sri Lanka mark its global presence by including Colombo in their popular cruise itineraries and we are really proud to be associated with the renowned Princess Cruise Liner as their local representative. We are ready to shoulder the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to earn their projected income from tourism in the coming years.”