The recent FCCA cruise conference and trade show held in Grand Cayman was a resounding success – and the best organised annual FCCA conference to date.
So said President of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Michele Paige who experienced the entire span of events herself last week from 31 October to 3 November on Grand Cayman.
‘I think it was phenomenal,’ Ms Paige commented, speaking to the Caymanian Compass yesterday.
Along with it being the best organised it was also the biggest, with over 1,200 delegates and more cruise executives present than ever before.
Asked how the transport was, Ms Paige made special mention of Chairman of the Transportation Task Force Kenrick Webster, who she said had done an unbelievable job. It was his responsibility to ensure that guests experienced short wait times and easy transport from the airport to their hotels, between conference locations, and to and from the social events.
Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford said he believed the recent training undergone by taxi and tour operators for the event had paid off. He received specific feedback from cruise executives and visiting ministers on the excellent transportation service they received.
Some 150 delegates took advantage of the Go East tour, a post conference tour which took place on the Friday.
Tours also took place to the Sister Islands and to various parts of Grand Cayman.
‘My understanding is that there was a pretty good pick-up on tours,’ said the Minister.
Mr. Clifford said that he received much feedback on the conference from cruise officials and general delegates.
They had been very impressed, he said, right from their arrival, down to the quality of accommodations to the workings of the conference itself.
‘Lots of people made reference to the reception at the airport,’ he said. ‘We really managed to get that right.’
Mr. Clifford explained that aside from refreshments being available at the airport for the conference delegates, there were separate immigration lines not only for those attending the conference but for each separate hotel they were staying at. Bag tags were colour coded depending on which hotel the delegates were staying.
This operation was spearheaded by MLA Alfonso Wright, assisted by MLAs Osborne Bodden and Lucille Seymour. ‘They definitely deserve kudos for this,’ Mr. Clifford said.
Unfortunately the supposed beach-side night-time extravaganza at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman had to be moved indoors on the Tuesday evening because of the rain. ‘But it turned out very well under the circumstances,’ Mr. Clifford said.
Ms Paige said she found the night phenomenal, considering indoor arrangements had to be made quickly.
Asked if the rain had dampened people’s spirits in the first couple of days, Ms Paige said it really had the opposite effect because when it stopped people appreciated the beautiful, sunny, dry weather all the more.
Some alterations had also to be made for the event at Boatswain’s Beach because it was raining during preparations on the Wednesday.
However, the night was a success, with cruise officials looking around the facility and noting how impressed they were with it, said Mr. Clifford.
He referred to the closing party at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal as ‘the mother of all parties’, saying the night was explosive with its live music, fireworks and the general buzz it created.
Asked whether the double gunshot killing that occurred in East End in the early hours of Thursday (the final day of the conference) had any impact on the delegates or cruise officials, Mr. Clifford said he believed that it had bypassed them.
‘It is something I was concerned about, not only because the conference was on but because it was such a tragic occurrence and my condolences go out to the families.’
Mr. Clifford believes it went largely unnoticed by the delegates because not one of them raised it with him. Ms Paige also confirmed that none of the delegates had mentioned anything to her about the incident.
In general Mr. Clifford said he felt the business of the cruise conference went well, with his main focus being cruise berthing. ‘We now have a much clearer plan of where we are going on that now,’ he said, noting that a lot more information would be forthcoming on this issue in the near future.
Ms Paige said everyone in the cruise industry was pleased with the business perspective of the conference and trade show and she would like to hear from some of the Caymanians involved, she said, to find out what they thought.
With it having been the largest FCCA conference ever, Mr. Clifford said it was an opportunity for Cayman not just to showcase the country, but to show its ability to host a major conference. This was important not just for the overseas people to see, but also for the private sector to note that the Cayman Islands can hold a conference of this magnitude successfully.
‘Credit has to go to the army of volunteers and the public servants who worked so hard to make the event a success,’ the Minister said.