The British Virgin Islands: Something for everyone

The Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park is helping the British Virgin Islands provide a Caribbean island adventure unlike any other. Vance Lewis tells Rebecca Gibson more

The British Virgin Islands: Something for everyone
CBRTTP regularly hosts more than one cruise ship per day

Famed for its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) archipelago and its 60 islands and cays have been a haven for both land-based and charter yacht tourists for many decades. Thanks to the pioneering spirit and years of hard work of the BVI’s late chief minister and tourism visionary Cyril B. Romney, the island is now a marquee destination for Caribbean cruises too.

“Romney travelled around the world promoting the BVI as a cruise destination, convinced the government to build a cruise pier and invested in equipment and services to accommodate cruise guests,” explains Vance Lewis, CEO of Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park (CBRTPP). “He’s the reason that BVI is a much-loved Caribbean cruise destination today, so the BVI paid tribute to his legacy by renaming one of the island’s greatest cruise assets – Tortola Pier Park – in his honour in 2019.”

Officially opened in 2016, CBRTPP regularly hosts cruise ships of all sizes at its 1,300-foot-long pier. “We have all the services and facilities cruise operators need to be able to quickly and safely berth their ships and transfer guests and crew to the shore,” says Lewis. “Multiple cruise lines visit frequently, and we’ve secured 15-year berthing agreements with both Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line.” Spanning five acres, CBRTPP also boasts several green spaces, areas for hosting events, conference facilities and multiple retail stores and food and beverage outlets.

“Many of the retailers sell locally produced items, such as handcrafted pottery, artwork, alcohol, beauty products, and sculptures and jewellery made from powdered coral,” comments Lewis. “We also have international retailers such as jewellery brands Effy and Diamonds International, so all guests will find something to suit their tastes and budget.

“Meanwhile, our cafes, bars and dining establishments provide the perfect place for guests and crew to sample authentic BVI and Caribbean delicacies,” adds Lewis. “CBRTTP is a world-class facility that delivers cultural, dining, retail and entertainment experiences that truly differentiate BVI from other Caribbean destinations.”

BVI residents play a pivotal role in bringing this rich cultural heritage to life. Not only do they run many of the outlets, but they also act as port ambassadors and BVI Tourist Board representatives, providing information to visitors who want to explore the island independently or book shore excursions.

“Friendly locals welcome cruise guests to CBRTPP with open arms, inviting them to immerse themselves fully in tropical island life the second they step off the ship,” remarks Lewis. “For example, storytellers, mocko jumbies (stilt walkers), traditional dancers and musicians come to entertain visitors and give them a unique and unforgettable experience.”

Despite CBRTPP’s growth, Lewis and his team are always keen to improve. “We regularly train our staff to ensure they have the knowledge and skills they need to deliver the best possible service,” he says. “Plus, we ask cruise visitors for their feedback, so we can resolve issues and identify opportunities for improving facilities or services. We aim to continually elevate the onshore experience so we can surpass the expectations of cruise lines and their guests.”

This article was first published in the 2019 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.

Share this story

Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
04 February 2020

Theme picker