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Old November 10th, 2007, 08:12 PM
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Default MS Columbus St. Croix visit and death

The MS Columbus, a 15,000-ton cruise ship owned by the Hapag-Lloyd cruise line, visited St. Croix Friday with mixed results.....

Cruise ship passenger drowns while snorkeling on St. Croix
By AESHA DUVAL
Saturday, November 10th 2007

ST. CROIX - A welcomed daytime cruise ship call to St. Croix ended on a sad note Friday when a 70-year-old man, a passenger on the MS Columbus, drowned Friday morning while snorkeling at Cane Bay.
Police spokeswoman Monyka Johnigan said officers were dispatched to Cane Bay on St. Croix's north shore around 11 a.m. following reports of a drowning victim. Police are not releasing the name of the victim pending notification of next of kin.
She said that according to witness reports, the man went snorkeling by himself at Cane Bay Beach. They later heard him screaming for help, she said.
Johnigan said a woman swam to him to help and brought him to shore, but he was not breathing and had no pulse. The woman, a tourist from California, performed CPR until paramedics arrived, Johnigan said.
Johnigan said the man was taken to Luis Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Johnigan said the woman who performed CPR on the victim suffered from exhaustion and also had to be taken to the hospital for treatment. She was listed in stable condition Friday.
Johnigan said the victim's wife was at Cane Bay when he died.
"We are deeply sorry about the unfortunate incident that took place," said V.I. Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson Doty.
She said the department has procedures in place to assist visitors in the event of a crisis. Doty said the victim's wife is being looked after and provided with assistance, including accommodations at a hotel.
"We certainly do everything possible to be there for the family and afford any comfort that we can, and we are certainly doing that," Doty said.
The 420-passenger capacity MS Columbus cruise ship docked at the Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted at 7 a.m. Friday. More than 300 passengers disembarked, Tourism officials said. The ship departed the island on time at 2 p.m.
- Contact Aesha Duval at 774-8772 ext. 458 or e-mail aduval@dailynews.vi.


Ship passengers find St. Croix 'comfortable,' visit too short

ST. CROIX - It was a welcome sight for Frederiksted and St. Croix.
The MS Columbus docked at the Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted for seven hours Friday. The 420-passenger capacity cruise ship, which is part of German cruise line Hapag-Lloyd's fleet, arrived at 7 a.m. and departed at 2 p.m. It was the second day call to the island this year.
More than 300 passengers ventured on shore Friday and were greeted by steel pan music and V.I. Tourism Department staff who distributed brochures, handed out rum punch and doled out information on island sightseeing tours.
Taxis and tour operators lined up at the pier Friday to drop off and pick up visitors. There were only a handful of vendors near the waterfront and park area Friday, and passengers who strolled up and down Strand Street on the waterfront in the morning were greeted by mostly shuttered store fronts. Some of the stores opened later in the day.
Most of the passengers were German and northern European nationals on an eight-island excursion through the Caribbean.
Despite the slower pace of the island, many of the passengers said they enjoyed their visit to St. Croix and would come back for a longer stay.
Renate Muller, who sat relaxing on a bench in Buddhoe Park, said the island was wonderful, but she wished she had more time to see more of it.
"The time was too short," she said.
Dorner Ingeborg said St. Croix was cozy compared with other islands she has visited. She lounged in the shade near Fort Frederik beach to escape the hot sun.
She and her husband, Herbert, spent much of the morning walking around Frederiksted looking at the cemetery and admiring the historic buildings.
"I would say it's very comfortable," she said of St. Croix. The couple visited other Caribbean islands, including St. Thomas, on a cruise in 2004.
Herbert Ingeborg said St. Croix could stand to have "just a little of St. Thomas," saying there should be a little more activity on the island.
"It's still a charming island," he said.
The more adventurous passengers boarded taxis and saw more sights of the island, while others were satisfied with riding bicycles through Frederiksted. V.I. Police officers patrolled both Frederiksted and Christiansted on foot, keeping a watchful eye on the visitors.
Gov. John deJongh greeted the ship's captain Friday morning and presented him with a gift bag that contained a bottle of single barrel Cruzan Rum, a hook bracelet and other items. The captain in turn gave the governor a plaque and a tour of the MS Columbus.
Assistant Tourism Commissioner Brad Nugent said the collaboration between the government agencies to ensure that everything went smoothly Friday was a demonstration of how ready and willing St. Croix is to accept any and all cruise ships.
"The people of St. Croix are always ready, willing and able to accept cruise ships," Nugent said. "We just need the opportunity to do so."
St. Croix has not received a cruise ship visit since January, when Seaborne Pride pulled in with fewer than 200 passengers.
Cruise ships stopped making regular calls to St. Croix after the 2001-02 season, citing concerns about crime and a lack of passenger interest in the island. Since then, the nighttime bunkering calls were the only regular cruise ship traffic.


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