Imagine how it would be if Buenos Aires woke up one morning to find a floating city its own size or bigger moored in the River Plate just outside the Darsena Norte. This is pretty much what happened in the Falkland Islands today, Monday, with the arrival in the outer harbour of Port Stanley (population around 1800) of the Celebrity Cruises ship Mercury,( population anything up to 3000, including 900 crew and staff members from 50 different countries.)
During a small welcome ceremony on board, commemorative plaques were exchanged between Mr.Terry Spruce, General Manager of the Falkland Islands Company, the vessel's agents and the ship's master, Captain Iordanis Adamidis. Also present were the Hon.Richard Cockwell, Falkland Islands Government Councillor with Responsibility for Tourism, senior civil servants and their wives and the staff of the Falkland Islands Tourist Board.
Manager of the Tourist Board, Mr John Fowler, thanked Captain Adamidis and Celebrity Cruises for making this visit, which he hoped would not be their last. The remarkable rise in the number of cruise ship visitors to Stanley over the past four years, he said, was largely due to the increased frequency of visits by much larger ships, such as Mercury. The reception of such numbers in such a small town presented a considerable challenge, but it was one which the Falklands welcomed and he hoped that the passengers would feel that welcome and enjoy their visit.
Signs that the Falklands are gearing up for this friendly invasion are everywhere. Close to the Public Jetty in Stanley, the principal disembarkation point, Phase 1 of a new Visitor Centre funded by the Falkland Islands Development Corporation is about to open. Close to this is A&E Knitwear, a newly re-located knitting workshop, specialising entirely in garments made from the super-soft wool for which the Islands' farms are famous. In the same area, Chilean-born chef and owner, Alex Olmedo presides over the Falklands Brasserie opened just six months ago and a little further along the street waitresses in smart straw boaters serve traditional English teas in the Dolphins Tea Rooms. Along Ross Road, Port Stanley's main sea-front avenue, the Falkland Islands Company are bringing a new shopping complex and tourist centre to completion.
While this was the only scheduled stop in the Falkland Islands for the Mercury this season, the citizens of Port Stanley are becoming used to such big ship visits. Already this season there have been visits from the Norwegian Dream (passenger capacity 1748) and the Royal Princess(passenger capacity 1275) and there are more to come before the season en