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Vessel looks like ‘value for money’
The Galleons Passage is worth the US$17.4 million paid for it and with minimal retrofitting works already completed, so far looks like “value for money.”
This sentiment was shared by Finance Minister Colm Imbert and Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan at the end of yesterday’s tour of the vessel, which is currently docked at the Cruise Ship Complex, Port-of-Spain.
Both ministers expressed pride in spending less than the TT$2.35 million estimated for retrofitting.
Some of the minor upgrades and improvements initially identified for the vessel were a canopy over the vehicle deck, a full canopy over the sun deck, an additional female wash-room on the sun deck and remodelling some rails in the passenger area.
However, one of the major planned modifications, covering of the sun deck which accommodates seating for 100 passengers, was not done. But Sinanan said this was intentional as they thought some passengers, especially tourists, would enjoy the “open-air experience.”
“We will send the boat out to service the seabridge as is and we will await the feedback from the passengers and if they don’t want it well then we will carry out retro-fitting works after the July/August period,” Sinanan said.
With tickets going at the same cost, passengers are expected to experience “a cruise ship-like experience” with an improved standard of service, Sinanan promised.
In the main air-conditioned cabin, which accommodates 600 passengers, some of the seats were still in plastic and there was luxury seating in the vessel’s business lounge. The wash-rooms, which include specially outfitted ones for the handicap, were squeaky clean.
Sinanan offered passengers some advice, “Respect the vessel, it would service longer.”
Just outside the main cabin on the first deck is an elevator for the handicapped.
During a tour to the vessel’s engine room, Imbert declared to the media: “Doesn’t this look new to you? It’s brand new…I do not know where all this talk came from? This could not have been so overnight? Or with magic.”
Regarding a document fixed on a part of the vessel “Date of Bill 2015,” Imbert said it represents the date when the steel was cut for its hull.
“There are stages in building the vessel. First thing you do is cut the steel for the hull and then start to fabricate the hull, then you fabricate the deck, then install the engines.”Speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Galleons Passage Master Valerij Rogac said there were “no problems…no issues…the vessel is in good working order and condition.”Rogac also denied the vessel stalled off Venezuela, hence the reason for its late docking on Monday.
Pointing to the charts, he explained: “As seen on the charts it was the Equatorial Currents which are very strong and we cannot ignore because its environmental so because it was very strong we had to decrease speed.”
The real test to Scarborough, through the Bocas, in two to three weeks time will tell. —Rhondor Dowlat
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