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Working group meets to plan Silver Expedition cruise ship visit to Pagan

THE “Discover Pagan 2014” working group recently met to plan for the visit of Silver Explorer, a cruise ship carrying 132 passengers, to Pagan next year.

At the meeting in the Marianas Visitors Authority office on Nov. 14, Northern Islands mayor’s office program manager Jerome Aldan said their staff will work with Pagan residents in consultation with MVA, Herman B. Cabrera & Associates and Inchcape Shipping Services personnel.

Discover Pagan 2014 working group members: Marianas Visitors Authority community project manager	  Martin F. Duenas, James Aldan of the Northern Islands mayor’s office, Inchcape Shipping Services operations coordinators Mateo “Matt” L. Buenabajo and Rodmar Diaz, architect Herman B. Cabrera, and former Rep. William S. Torres, consultant and volunteer.  Contributed photo
Cabrera has acquired a temporary permit from the Department of Public Lands for landscaping and cleanup in anticipation of the cruise ship’s arrival which is being arranged by Inchcape Shipping Services.

The cruise ship will visit Pagan on Sept. 28, 2014, at 8:30 a.m., for four hours.

Aldan said the mayor’s office considers the visit a big event and will ensure that visitors have positive impression and “experience the unique frontier island hospitality and natural beauty and historic sites of Pagan.”

The mayor’s office, he added, will also work with the Historical Preservation Office and the Division of Lands and Survey to prepare maps of places to see such as the inner and outer emerald lakes, a Japanese WWII plane, the black sand beach, dolphin sightseeing, bird watching, coconut crabs in their natural habitat among other historical and cultural sites on Pagan.

The mayor’s office will likewise work closely with residents who want to display Pagan arts and crafts or take visitors on a tour by foot or on 4-wheelers.

Cabrera said his permit is good for one year and the landscaping and cleanup is expected to begin in Jan. 2014.

During the meeting at MVA, Cabrera discussed the possibility of constructing two native huts for the guests and the high cost of transporting the needed materials to the volcanic island.

But he said he is ready to face the challenge and will do the project as stipulated in his permit from DPL.

For his part, former Rep. William S. Torres, prime mover of the First Northern Islands Summit for Resettlement and Redevelopment, asked Cabrera to look for sponsors for the Discover Pagan Island project which involves inviting visitors to visit the island in April for two days of rest and recreation.

Inchcape Shipping Services operation coordinator Mateo “Matt” L. Buenabajo said they have already secured permits for the cruise ship visit from the U.S. Coast Guard and CNMI Customs/Quarantine.

The Coast Guard and Customs/Quarantine will inspect the vessel on Saipan.

Silver Explorer will come from Alaska and then head to Japan, from where it will proceed to Pagan, Saipan, Tinian, Guam and Chuuk.

According to Buenabajo, Silver Explorer has a maximum passenger capacity of 132, with 50 percent are U.S. citizens, 10 percent Asians, 20 percent Australians, and the rest are Japanese, Germans and other Europeans.

The ship is 354 ft. long and weighs 6,130 gross tons. It has 117 crew members and uses its own Zodiac boats to get to shore, Buenabajo said, who was accompanied to the meeting at MVA by Rodmar Diaz, another operator/coordinator of Inchcape Shipping Services.

The working group asked MVA community project manager Martin F. Duenas to help with the media coverage and press releases that will promote the Northern Islands as a major tourist destination.

Duenas said they are “very supportive” of the project.

The group agreed to meet again on Dec. 2 at the MVA office this time with Commerce Secretary Sixto K. Igisomar and DPL Secretary Pete A. Tenorio.