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HARBOR NIGHT STILL ON COURSE

Despite the hurdles of changed cruise ship itineraries, rumors of changed ship itineraries and the threat of crime, Harbor Night, Frederiksted’s biweekly street festival, is alive and well.
Hugh Dalton, organizer of Harbor Night, said the event, which comes alive when the Carnival Destiny mega ship is in port until midnight, is set for 26 weeks a year, every other Wednesday. The only foreseeable change to that is next summer, when the season is already in a lull.
"Carnival will pull out May 2000 to September 2000 for dry dock," Dalton said. "They’ll also send it to other venues to test out viability, but it will be back for the 2000/2001 season."
The only threat, outside of a devastating hurricane, to those and other Destiny visits is crime. Destiny officials have repeatedly threatened to leave Frederiksted early because there have been incidents where passengers and crew have been robbed.
Late last month there were reports that a tourist couple from the Destiny had been robbed at gunpoint on a beach north of town. Soon after, however, the Virgin Islands Police Department issued a statement saying that no gun was involved. Rather, police said, the couple was swimming when items left on the beach were taken.
Still, reports of crime don’t sit well with cruise lines concerned for the safety of passengers and crew. If the Destiny and its 3,000-plus passengers left at 5 or 6 p.m. rather than midnight, Harbor Night would essentially be scuttled.
And that, Dalton has said, would mean the loss of millions of dollars annually for Harbor Night vendors and other Frederiksted businesses.
The Destiny, which entered service in 1996, is among the largest cruise ships in the world. It features a three-deck show lounge, 15,000-square-foot health and fitness facility, a children's play area, a 214-foot-long water slide and specialty dining areas in addition to the ship's two main restaurants.
Sixty percent of the vessel's staterooms offer an ocean-view with 60 percent of those featuring private verandahs.
Although it won’t be able to remain in port until midnight like the Destiny, another of Carnival’s mega ships, the Triumph, will be calling on Frederiksted starting in October, according to the cruise line’s public relations office in Miami.
According to Carnival, the Triumph and Destiny will visit on alternating Wednesdays. But because the Triumph must return to Miami by Saturday to take on new passengers, it won’t be able to support a Harbor Night.
Including Carnival Cruise Line’s calls to Frederiksted for the 1999/2000, there are some 84 ships scheduled to visit.
Meanwhile, Dalton emphasized that while there are no great changes in store for ship visits, there may be some changes for Harbor Night.
"The change will be in the product," Dalton said. "It will be bigger and better."

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