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Turks & Caicos Islands Welcomes the Newest and Largest Carnival Ship to the Destination

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#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – After the successful reopening of the Turks and Caicos Cruise Sector, the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board is happy to announce that the destination has now welcomed the Carnival Cruise Line’s newest and largest ship the Mardi Gras for the first time.

In celebration of this momentous occasion, the traditional plaque exchange ceremony was conducted. Hon. Otis Morris, Minister responsible for Home Affair, Transportation, Broadcasting, Energy and Utilities, and Telecommunications Commission, awarded the ship’s captain the plaque on behalf of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government and in returned received a plaque on behalf of Carnival Corporation from the ship’s captain. Due to health and safety protocols, and to ensure the safety the of visitors and residents alike, the scale of the ceremony was downsized and guests aboard the ship were not invited to participate in the festivities, nor was the embarkation of the vessel by Government officials conducted.

The ship arrived at the Grand Turk Cruise Port on Thursday, 6th January 2022, with over 4,135 passengers and a crew of 1,673, persons. Named for the original ship that took Carnival to the seas in 1972, the Mardi Gras is an XL-Class ship that accommodates over 6,500 passengers. This ship boasts the very first roller coaster at sea, where guests can throttle through the air at speeds of 40+ miles per hour, twisting and turning around Carnival’s signature funnel. Named the BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster, it is also home to Carnival Water Works, the largest and most elaborate aquapark in the Carnival fleet. Carnival has indicated that this ship will be added to the regular line-up of cruises scheduled to port on Grand Turk and is expected to arrive to the destination bi-weekly.

Deputy Director of Tourism Ms. Mary Lightbourne commented: “We are extremely excited to welcome the Carnival Mardi Gras and add it to our vast portfolio of cruise ships that arrive to our ‘Beautiful by Nature’ destination. Grand Turk is considered one of the most sought-after cruise ship destinations and with the successful expansion of the port we will be able to accommodate new and larger ships like the Carnival Mardi Gras. Due to this expansion, we are also predicting an increase in visitor arrivals, with figures exceeding pre-pandemic arrivals.”

The Deputy Director also emphasized that “Grand Turk is ready and eager to welcome visitors to the destination and treat them to the authentic Turks and Caicos experience.”

The Turks and Caicos Government put mechanisms in place to ensure that the destination was prepared to welcome cruise ships once again and as a result, Grand Turk is expected to have robust tourism season, with the quality of service provided exceeding the pre-pandemic standards.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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