BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, has issued a proclamation declaring 6 June 2013 “Freewinds Day” in its over 30 member countries.
The SMV Freewinds, the longest-sailing ship in the Caribbean, was christened in Curacao on 6 June 1988 and will celebrate 25 years of sailing Caribbean waters next year.
In presenting the proclamation to the ship’s captain, Capt. Mike Napier, during the 19th annual conference of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) in Curacao this week, the CTO chairman, Sen. Ricky Skerritt, described the Freewinds as part of the foundation of Caribbean cruising and a permanent and vital part of the Caribbean community.
“Everywhere you have sailed you have warmed the hearts of local people with your community spirit and your sense of integration with Caribbean people,” Skerritt said during a brief ceremony aboard the vessel.
“Today is a special occasion. It is the perfect way to end my two year elected term as chairman of this great organization known as the Caribbean Tourism Organization,” he said before an audience that included tourism policymakers and senior executives from both the public and private sectors.
The Freewinds has operated in and around the Caribbean since 1988, making over 3,000 calls at 45 different ports.
It has made a significant contribution to the region’s development “economically, educationally, culturally” and, through its social programmes, and it has endeavored to improve the standard of life and wellbeing of the Caribbean people, the CTO says of the vessel in the proclamation.
The tourism development agency points to assistance provided by the SMV Freewinds in the training and instructing of over 3,000 professionals in the maritime community, fire and police departments and defense and coast guard forces. It also refers to opportunities presented to over 10,000 students who “have been given a chance, through their schools, to visit the ship and learn about the cruise and maritime industry and create or increase their awareness in the Caribbean of this product and its objectives”.
“In recognition of 25 years of consistent support and work economically, educationally, culturally and through its social programmes to improve the standard of life and well-being of the Caribbean people and to acknowledge this exemplary partnership, the Caribbean Tourism Organization hereby proclaims June 6th 2013 as Freewinds Day and wishes all who work and sail on her continued success,” the proclamation reads.