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All hands on deck for Golden Princess visit to Falklands

Monday, January 29th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
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The <i>Golden Princess</i> in Stanley Harbour The <i>Golden Princess</i> in Stanley Harbour

Today the huge cruise liner Golden Princess made the first of a number of scheduled visits this year to Stanley (population around 2000) the neat, but tiny capital of the Falkland Islands.

While perhaps even more passengers came ashore from four cruise liners, last Friday: Rotterdam, Norwegian Crown Explorer II and Bremen, the 2,600 passengers of the Golden Princessâ€" some hundreds short of its full capacity - combined with large numbers of staff and crew, constituted the largest single invasion to be seen in the Falkland Islands since April 2nd 1982. On that occasion Stanley was invaded by armed and dangerous members of the Argentine forces and the local population wisely stayed home. Today's invaders, mainly North American, were waving nothing more dangerous than credit cards and almost every able-bodied adult in the town, who could be spared from his or her normal occupation, had been recruited to give them a suitably friendly welcome. Every taxi, minivan and van in Stanley was in use, plus a fleet of offâ€"road vehicles, to ferry some 1400 of the visitors on a variety of excursions: city tours, penguin tours, farm tours and even tours of the nearby 1982 battlefields. Among the drivers and guides could be found farmers, policemen, a social worker and even some former heads of government departments, now retired. While the attempt to amuse and entertain so many people at once strains Stanley's human resources to their limits, there is a worse scenario. Six times already this season, unusually high winds have caused cancellations of cruise ship visits, depriving the Falkland Islands Government of some £40,000 in landing fee revenue and leaving local retailers and other suppliers with empty tills. Further records are still to be broken, if the weather holds good, with February shaping up to be the busiest month ever for cruise ship visits to the Falklands. In the next sixteen days, Stanley alone will see 22 ship visits. Nor are tourists the only invaders. Currently anyone walking around Stanley is likely to be caught on camera by one or other of several British TV teams. These teams, which include BBC, ITV and Channel Five, are currently in the Islands filming background material for programmes, which will go out in June, during the Falklands winter, to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the liberation of the Falklands from General Galtieri's forces. John Fowler (MercoPress) Stanley

Categories: Tourism, Mercosur.

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