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Cruise season 2023-2024 sets sail with SH Diana's grand arrival |25 October 2023

Cruise season 2023-2024 sets sail with SH Diana's grand arrival

The arrival of the newly constructed SH Diana at 6:30am yesterday officially kicked off the 2023-2024 cruise ship season.

The guests were welcomed yesterday morning during a special ceremony at the Mahé Quay, organised by Mahé Shipping in partnership with the Seychelles Ports Authority, Tourism department and prominent collaborators like APEX and Airtel.

In her keynote address, principal secretary for tourism, Sherin Francis, extended her heartfelt welcome to the guests and the crew of the SH Diana.

“Your presence in our country is truly appreciated,” she stated.

She also thanked all those partners within the industry, including the destination management companies and the small service providers within the communities, whom she said were the backbone of the tourism industry and whose efforts should not go unnoticed.

Mrs Francis said for the current season, there will be a new innovative approach, as the tourism department works to improve and innovate the services.

She thanked all the relevant stakeholders that were involved in the exercise leading up to the cruise ship season.

The aim is to ensure that Seychelles offers an unforgettable experience to the visitors expected to disembark from approximately 40 ports from 21 different cruise vessels ranging from 91 to 295m in length.

In this edition of the cruise ship season, a different operational approach will be implemented. The cruise ship village will be situated within the IDC car park, aimed at enhancing visitor flow and ensuring the visibility of all licensed and registered operators. This set-up will discourage unlicensed operators and guarantee that services consistently meet expected standards. The Tourism department relies on the collaboration of all the operators, including tour guides, tour operators, taxi operators, commission agents, and boat charter operators, among others, to contribute to the success of this season.

For her part, Seychelles Ports Authority’s representative, Phillipa Samson, stated that according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, in 2019, travel and tourism represented over 42% of the Gross Domestic Product and 10% of the employees were directly employed in the tourism sector.

“It is clear we are highly dependent on the success of the tourism sector,” she stated.

She noted that while cruise ship passengers form only a small part of the overall number of people visiting Seychelles, just under 20,000 passengers and crew from cruise vessels reached the shores in the last cruise season according to the records kept by the National Bureau of Statistics.

“It still has its place in the motor that drives our economy.”

Ms Samson spoke about the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on cruise tourism for Seychelles. With the restrictions now completely lifted, she proclaimed that it is the right time for tourism related businesses to step in to offer their goods and services to the thousands of cruise passengers.

Most importantly, as the cruise ship season unfolds, the archipelago is set to welcome a multitude of vessels, offering their guests an exceptional Seychelles experience. Of particular excitement is the impending arrival of the MSC Spendida, the longest cruise vessel to date, with an impressive length of 333 metres, to dock at the Mahé Quay. It is worth noting that the Mahé Quay's length is 370 metres, introducing an exhilarating new challenge.

In closing the brief ceremony, Captain Kai Ukkonen had the honour of engaging in an exchange of token with Angelic Appoo, managing director of Mahé Shipping.

The centrepiece of this exchange was the remarkable gift presented by Ms Appoo to Captain Ukkonen – a genuine coco de mer, a Seychelles treasure from its very heart.

The events proceeded with a delegation from the Tourism department boarding the vessel for a tour that provided insights into the ship's history and stories.

The SH Diana, a pride of the Swan Hellenic fleet and one of the largest ships, boasts a capacity of 209 passengers and 141 staff, offering the epitome of luxury and personalised care. The yacht embarked on its maiden voyage in April 2023, touring the Mediterranean's renowned antiquity sites.

As the visitors disembarked from the luxurious 5-star cruise SH Diana, they were greeted by some local musicians and had the chance to engage with cultural dances.

The accompanying photos show some highlights of yesterday’s ceremony to welcome SH Diana to our shores.


Sunny Esparon/Press release from Tourism Seychelles

Photos by Joena Meme

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