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ROATAN (May 20, 2010) — Mahogany Bay Cruise Center and the community of Roatan celebrated the inauguration of two unique exhibits commemorating two of Roatan’s most significant historical and cultural traditions — the Garinagu Tribe and the local shrimping industry. 

The two-part event was held at the facility’s expansive open-air plaza. It was attended by members of the Punta Gorda community, local shrimpers, government officials, Carnival Corporation and Mahogany Bay Cruise Center executives, and guests and crew members from Carnival Glory, which was in port for the day.

The event began with a gathering of members from the Garinagu tribe. Folkloric dances and speeches by Garinagu leaders preceded an official ribbon cutting ceremony using traditional coconut tree leaves for the ribbon.

The 250-square-foot clay hut replica of a traditional Garinagu home transports visitors back to the 1700s when the black Caribs first arrive on the island that is now Roatan and settled in the town of Punta Gorda. The replica will introduce visitors to the Garinagu culture through their history, food and artifacts.

“Punta Gorda was the first settlement in the Bay Island and we are very happy that Mahogany Bay is supporting our culture by keeping it alive through this exhibit that thousands of passengers will visit,” said Alex Avila, president of the Organization for the Improvement of Punta Gorda Community.

Guests were then escorted to the second location, where a massive shrimp boat replica resides. The boat, named Heritage, was refurbished by local fishermen. Some parts — the mast, boom and outriggers — were salvaged from old shrimp boats, and the gunwales, bow and wheelhouse were fabricated from scratch.

The fishing industry was a thriving business on Roatan in the 1960s. Some of the most prominent families on the island today started out in the fishing business that traditionally has been dominated by shrimp fishing.

“Coming from this industry, it is a pleasure that we are sharing some of our history with the visitors of Mahogany Bay Cruise Center,” said Jerry Hynds, local partner of Mahogany Cruise Center and himself a former fisherman. “It is also a nice tribute to some of the local guys who are still around who were pioneers in this industry.”

The 2010 cruise season will bring 200 ship calls to the island carrying approximately 500,000 visitors who will have an opportunity to learn about Roatan’s culture and traditions through the exhibits.

“I believe that having these two great exhibits here at our Cruise Center not only pays homage to their remarkable culture, but also shows our appreciation to those who have contributed so much to the island,” said Giora Israel, senior vice president of port and destination development for Carnival Corporation. “This will give our guests a first glimpse of all that awaits them on Roatan.”

For more information about Mahogany Bay Cruise Center, please go to our website: www.mahoganybaycc.com 

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