Being surrounded by pirates can be quite the experience. But when that comes in the middle of a movie theatre, with 40-foot pirates in 3D on a huge screen, the experience can be wild.
That’s the experience of competition winner Louise Maguire, who along with her husband Kevin visited Tampa for the world premiere of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
“I didn’t realise there was such a big pirate contingent in the world – it was very different but it was really good. We’ve only been on island for three months and it was the first competition I entered, so we’ve been really lucky,” said Mrs. Maguire.
“I have heard about Pirates Week and now know a lot more about it. It was nice to do a bit of shopping in Tampa as well. The film was really good and it was the first 3D film I’ve ever seen. Everyone was dressed up – it’s not very often you’re in the middle of that many pirates. I really enjoyed it – I will keep entering the competitions.”
Other people who no doubt will keep entering the competitions are Bob Schmidt of Valrico and Sheila Ryan, both of whom will be coming to Cayman for Pirates Week 2011 after winning a raffle and a silent auction respectively.
Also in attendance were Bernie Bush of Pirates Week, Cayman Islands Tourism Association president Harry Lalli and representatives of the Department of Tourism.
Mr. Bush said the trip was a great success and it raised the profile of Pirates Week to an important market.
“Tampa has over 8,000 registered pirates in their association – all different crews. The leader we were dealing with, the Samuel Bennett crew, happens to be the past president of the Association. They’ve also put us on to people in Savannah, Georgia, and other places, so all of a sudden we have a target market of people who want to take part in Pirates Week festivities and we want them here – we want so many here that we have problems with accommodation. That is what Pirates Week is all about.
“This time Department of Tourism and Cayman Airways and Pirates Week are working closely together. For it to succeed we all must be on the same page and this Pirates of the Caribbean premiere was a good example,” he said.
The idea for the Tampa trip came about following good work by J.J. McLean, said Mr. Bush, who had initially introduced Pirates Week committee members to the Tampa representatives. From there, the tourism department, Caymanian Compass and Cayman Airways offered prizes, including air travel and trips.
“We had a Cayman Islands booth which was speaking about the destination and Pirates Week and Harry Lalli came. He talked about everything to do with the tourism industry such as diving, accommodations and everything so I could speak about Pirates Week.
“They gave me 10 minutes in the theatre before the movie started to talk to the 400 people there. We made some good connections and… we were able to talk to them about Pirates Week. People are starting to get interested in the hotels and the air prices. This is just the beginning and things are starting to happen,” said the Pirates Week driving force.
He added that it was selling the Cayman Islands as much as the event because aside from Pirates festivities, there is Stingray City, scuba diving, the cardboard boat race and more.
“This year there will be a lot more action for people to enjoy.”