Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 28th 2016 Contents BG4 COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JULY 28 • 2016
The Soca on the Seas Cruise
in October, sailing from
Miami to the Bahamas will
promote T&T s culture and
local businesses said Juliana
Fermin, Partner in HJ Travel
Agency, based in Texas.
She also said she is in talks with different
businesses and mas bands to participate in
the international cruise.
"People have been asking about if there will
be T&T beer on the cruise and we want these
local beer brands to be there. We are speaking
to Carib right now. Our guests have asked if
Carib and Stag beer will be served on the
cruise. People are also asking about Angostura
Rum. People on the ship want a feel of
Trinidad s culture. We are asking different
companies to bring your products and show-
case on board," she told the Guardian last
Friday at her home, Arima.
Soca on the Seas is the brainchild of Fermin,
a Trinidadian travel agent and distributor res-
ident in Houston, Texas.
The cruise will take place from October 28
to October 31 later this year on Royal Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean Cruises is an American
global cruise company based in Miami, Florida.
It is the world s second-largest cruise line
In 2014, Fermin spoke to John Afoon, co-
ordinator and creator of "Live at the Hyatt"
Carnival Show and he asked if a similar show
could be done outside of T&T.
She told him she could do a similar show
as part of a cruise on the sea.
"We approached NCL, which is a Norwegian
cruise line but eventually got a better deal
from Royal Caribbean. Any ship would require
initial deposits from the company and in our
case, the travel agency. So you make that pay-
ment to the ship and in the meanwhile people
will make their deposits as well for tickets.
We have put out US$350,000 in the deposits
to hold spots. Of course we make this money
back when people buy tickets. Once tickets
are purchased you get back your initial invest-
ments plus your commission. It is very simple,"
She said the way the tickets are priced, they
expect just to "break even" and added if a
comparison is done to other themed cruises
which are either Reggae or Soca, her cruise
is much cheaper.
The Soca on the Sea Cruise prices range
from US $903 to US $ 1,333.
"Our base price includes alcohol. On other
cruises a customer pays US $1,500. My highest
price for this cruise is US $1,333 and this is
for a junior suite. The reason why we are much
cheaper is that we do not charge an admin-
istrative fee, while other cruises charge up to
US $250 per person in administrative fees.
Our US $903 includes, alcohol, tips, tax,
accommodation and entertainment," she said.
Fermin hopes to have 600 persons on the
cruise in October.
"People are buying tickets everyday despite
the bad press this cruise has got because of
incorrect articles written in the media. Some
people thought the cruise was off. I want peo-
ple to know that the cruise is on," she said.
At the media launch of Soca on the Seas
Cruise in May, Dr. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister
of Community Development, Culture and the
Arts, spoke and she said: "From our standpoint
we regard this initiative as a means of pro-
moting the commercial viability and vision of
our creative sectors. Our culture is so beautiful
it is a shame to keep it to ourselves. Soca on
the Seas takes us to the rest of the world. With
a market that captures cruisers from Canada,
the United States of America, the British and
US Virgin Islands, Panama and Japan, we can
be assured that Soca on the Seas will see Car-
nival reaching new markets."
Among the performers booked for the cruise
are: Chutney Soca Monarch KI, Roy Cape All
Stars featuring Blaxx and Darnella, Bunji and
Fay Ann and Alison Hinds. DJ s including
Dawg E Slaughter , Private Ryan and Alicia D
Duchess, Arima panside Trinidad Nostalgic,
YUMA, comedians Nikki Crosby with Ro dey
and Santana and the Lexo TV puppets. There
will be runway shows from Heather Jones,
Claudia Pegus, Ecliff Elie, Tiger Lily Hill from
Cayman, CyANYAval, Honamic Designs and
swimwear from Afrodisiak.
More than a soca boat
Fermin said she wants to incorporate local
businesses and culture to use the cruise to
promote local brand T&T.
"This is not an enhanced boat ride. I could
have had a wine and jam regular soca cruise.
This is not only about a fete. We are taking
seven fashion designers from the Caribbean,
six of them from Trinidad and showcasing
the talent from this country. There will be a
fashion show on the ship for the cruise. There
will also be local delicacies aboard," she said.
She said the cruise is from Miami to the
Bahamas because the purpose is to showcase
T&T s culture to foreigners.
"There will be many foreign eyes looking
on and there will be further opportunities for
the country. That same cruise line can even
use these same artistes and local businesses
and have a Trini-style Carnival cruise. The
Carnival crowd of tourists have decreased
annually. Tourism numbers are down. This
cruise is another way to promote T&T and to
get people to come here," she said.
She also spoke about the controversial grant
of $250,000 she received from the Ministry
"We are going to use this grant for artistes
and performers. We still have to rent costumes,
assist with getting the artistes."
She said people from all over the world are
buying tickets for the cruise including Canada,
the United States, Latin America and the
Fermin also reacted to the negative criticisms
she has got because of the grant she received.
She said some of the negative feedback in
the media has been "hurtful."
"Someone who did not get money for their
particular NGO, went on the Soca on the Seas
Facebook page and ranted and raved about us
getting this money. They figured other things
were more important. Despite some media
reports we never received $450,000 to throw
a Soca party," she said.
Potential for local
Fermin believes there are opportunities for
local businesses on the cruise.
"This cruise is all about Soca and business,"
She said local business can use the cruise
to advertise their brand.
"Business will have an opportunity to get
their name out there," she said.
Apart from a US $350,000 deposit to Royal
Caribbean she expects that they would have
to spend another US$305,000 in other expens-
es.She hopes sales of tickets and sponsorship
cover these expenses.
"This money will be necessary if we take
everyone we want to take on the cruise from
soca artistes to panmen to band and costumes.
All this includes airfare, hotel, performer fees
and per diem. That is why we are happy if
sponsors come forward to help pay for the
panmen to go or the traditional masmen. It
is US $12,000 for the airfare of six traditional
masmen to perform on the cruise," she said.
She also said she has had a long relationship
with Yuma mas band and they will be donating
costumes for the cruise.
"Their costumes will be seen on the cruise.
If someone wants to register to play mas at
that point there will be a booth.There will be
a 90-minute slot of Parade of the Bands on
the cruise," she said.
She said so far they have sold over 50 per
cent of the tickets for the cruise.
"The aim of this is to promote culture, local
businesses, do business online in a whole new
way. Have fun, but you are still doing business.
You hear people talking about Crop Over in
Barbados, Carnival in Jamaica and other places.
We need to bring people back to Trinidad.
Next we want a similar cruise to Mexico. The
following year it could be to Belize," she said.
Soca cruise will promote T&T
Juliana Fermin, Partner
in HJ Travel Agency
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