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Dec 8, 2004

Jolly Roger appears in City harbour

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If you’ve been to Cancun, Jamaica or any one of a dozen tourist hotspots in the Caribbean, you know it’s not a particularly new idea. But hey, why reinvent the wheel? Or in this case the concept of a pirate ship…on which passengers can load up on rum punch, hoist the Jolly Roger and even walk the plank. News 5′s Patrick Jones reports from the deck of Belize’s latest tourist attraction.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

The pirates–at least those wielding swords as opposed to briefcases–disappeared to the pages of history hundreds of years ago…but thanks to a new initiative by one Belizean entrepreneur, the past lives again.

Businessman Alvaro Alamina and a small group of friends have pooled their financial resources, bought this ship from Barbados and acquired a Belize franchise for Jolly Roger. The ship, built in 1969 for the cargo trade, was refurbished in the 80?s for the Barbados tourism market and will now take up similar duties in Belize. This week the distinctive schooner is being christened here commercially in the hope of carving out a niche in the burgeoning cruise tourism trade.

Alvaro Alamina, General Manager, Jolly Roger Belize

?So our thinking was that if this boat was operating in a cruise tourism market of half a million people and with Belize now exploding to almost a million, that was a big consideration for us. But another thing that we looked at when I decided to get into this is that, I considered that at some point in time this thing is going to explode so big that there is going to be tremendous pressure on our national assets like the Maya Ruins, the caves, the rivers, the Barrier Reef.?

To relieve some of that man made stress to these fragile resources Alamina says this kind of sea operation is the way to go.

Alvaro Alamina

?We basically are going to be gearing our operations towards the cruise tourism industry. And as a secondary market we?re looking at the local and overnight tourism market. So we?re going to have daytime cruises for the cruise passengers and on weekends namely Friday nights, Saturday nights and Sundays for families, we?re going to be handling the local and overnight tourism market doing specific packages to suit those different niches.?

Patrick Jones

?The one hundred and ten foot vessel will take roughly three hundred people at a time for tours offshore Belize City. But the principals of this venture say it will not be just another boat ride in the Belize harbour. General Manager of Jolly Roger Belize Alvaro Alamina says his guests will be treated to a variety of Belizean entertainment.?

Alvaro Alamina

?We will be taking them out as far as Goff?s Caye, English Caye in that area, with fun and entertainment going on and doing two and a half to three hour maximum cruises with them. For the night cruises that we?re going to be doing, it will be about two and a half to three and a half hours in duration in the same ten mile radius, more or less.?

The operation will employ twenty one full time staff. But Alamina says an additional fourteen jobs in related activities will provide employment for other Belizeans, including local entertainers who will help to take visitors back in time to when ships like this ruled the Caribbean Sea.

Alvaro Alamina

?What we plan to do with out actors and actresses in due course is to re-enact segments of our history such as the Battle of St. George?s Caye out at sea with all the fanfare and props and we are studying–doing some dramatic productions that will showcase our history with the wood cutters, the Mahogany camps on the river and doing it on board to show tourists and locals, using our actors and actresses to showcase that part of our history. Not really the pirate side, but the settlement of Belize; the history of Belize.?

The ship has been given clean bill of sea worthiness by the Port Authority and will operate from the marina at Old Belize on the Western Highway.

It?s equipped with props ripped from stories of old, historical display cabinets, food service areas and of course, a bar that is sure to make any voyage a memorable one. Patrick Jones, for News 5.

For more information you can contact Alamina at 610-3640.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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