Today marks the 70th anniversary of the first cruise ship visit to these islands.
On 22 February, 1937, 340 well-heeled passengers aboard the RMS Atlantis came ashore in George Town, giving birth to the local cruise industry.
The Cayman Islands Postal Service, with the assistance of the Department of Tourism, is honouring the occasion by issuing a very limited edition Commemorative Cover and cachet.
The Atlantis anchored in the George Town roadstead at 8.30am, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. It arrived from Montego Bay with 400 tourists on board.
‘At 9.30am they [passengers] came ashore taking sightseeing trips and indulging in sea bathing and fishing. People from every district came down to the waterfront to view the big liner which sailed at 6.30pm for Havana,’ the report said.
The Gleaner’s report provided details of the ship origins and final destination.
‘The ship started its voyage on 17 February from Southampton via Casa Blanca, the Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, La Guayara and Cristobal with mail and cruise passengers. On the 18th it stopped in Jamaica. A day later it sailed for Santiago de Cuba, returning to Montego Bay on Sunday morning and sailing in the afternoon for Cayman Islands, Havana, Miami, Nassau, San Juan, St. Lucia, Antigua, Madeira and Southampton. The Atlantis left Montego Bay at 7 p.m. for George Town, Grand Cayman. ‘
Founded upon the Seas also makes reference to the occasion, quoting from Commissioner Cardinall’s report.
‘Landing at a wharf such as we possessed was deemed … the highest of adventures. Once safely on shore, they could view the islands’ sights … bathe in the sea, sit in deck chairs on the beach under sunshades. They were regaled with rum cocktails, beer, and ice cream. Souvenirs of various kinds were on sale: tortoiseshell, sharkskin, and thatch-work, specially made picture postcards. and Spanish gold and silver coins said to have been recently unearthed in Cayman Brac.’
A year earlier Commissioner Cardinall had arranged for the 16,000-ton vessel, which carried between 400 and 450 passengers, to stop in the Cayman Islands to promote tourism.
People interested in purchasing a First Day Cover can do so at the North Terminal today between 9am and noon or at the Philatelic Bureau at the Seven Mile Beach Post Office during regular business hours.