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Samoa welcomes tourists from first cruiseliner since 2019

By Talaia Mika

APIA, SAMOA – 18 OCTOBER 2022: A gem of tourists from around the world flooded the Apia town today as the first cruiseliner to dock at the Matautu wharf this morning after close to three-years of the borders lockdown.

Tourists on Holland America Line’s Westerdam were warmly welcomed with traditional Samoan entertainment at the Matautu wharf organised by the Samoa Tourism Authority in collaboration with the Samoa Ports Authority, and the agents Betham Brother’s Enterprises and Margaret’s Tours.

Reigning Miss Samoa, Haylanni Pearly Kuruppu led the team that welcomed the tourists on arrival as Samoa sends out the welcome message for tourists since her borders reopened in August this year.

Around the wharf area, local businesses set up a Flea Market under tents with local handicrafts and crafted material for sale. Singing, drum beats, dancing, food making and tasting and the sound of a stringband added to the atmosphere.

tourists buying
tourists buying

Tourists checking out the local flea market.

The Westerdam arrived with 1,345 passengers of over 35 different nationalities and 768 crew arrived in Apia at 8am and departed at 5pm today after a full day ashore and exploration of the island and generating the nation’s tourism economy.

Over five hundred tourists arranged tours through the vessels agents while others opted to sample the range of traditional Samoan activities such as making Umu, cultural entertainment and traditional tattooing at the Samoa Cultural village.

Westerdam’s guests also visited the Museum of Samoa, the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, excursions to Lalomanu and Manu Sina beaches and local vanilla farms.

tourists at fale
tourists at fale

An attraction at the Samoa Cultural Village.

The Westerdam is on a trans-Pacific cruise which started in Seattle on 2nd October with majority of its’ guests being originally from the United States.

Homeported out of Sydney from November 8, 2022, to January 3, 2023, Westerdam will sail seven itineraries around Australia and New Zealand ranging from 13 to 30 days.

The second cruise liner to call into Apia this week is the Zuiderdam that is on a South Pacific cruise which started in San Diego on 3rd October. After Apia, it will call into Fiji, Tonga, Cook Islands and French Polynesia before returning to San Diego on 17th November.

Other than the two liners to visit the Apia port this week, Crew Center highlights a list of upcoming ships to Samoa up to next year.

tourists ship
tourists ship

Exploring alone.

Other cruises include Crown Princess and Silver Whisper that are scheduled to call visit in November and December this year followed by twenty-six ships from January to April for next year.

The last time a cruise ship docked in Apia shores was before the measles outbreak in 2019.

The General Manager of Betham Brothers Enterprises (BBE), Fuimaono Hugo Betham has praised the return of cruise ships.

“We are thrilled to see large-scale cruising come back to Samoa. For us it’s important that our principals Carnival Corporation have shown confidence in the work of our Ministry of Health and Port Health teams and steps taken by everyone to ensure Samoa is ready to safely welcome cruise lines back to our shores” said Betham.

Margaret Ryan of Margaret’s Tours added that while many have arranged tours through the vessels, many more will sample what Samoa has to offer either through taxis, independent tour operators and on-their-own