By Kadeem Joseph
Antigua and Barbuda is presently in discussions with a cruise company, which is seeking to have three of its ships call Antigua and Barbuda’s waters home, albeit temporarily, a move that could have long-term benefits for the country.
General Manager of Global Ports Holding Antigua, Dona Regis-Prosper, explained that the company has been in talks with Celebrity Cruises and exploring the potential for the vessels, presently in Barbados, to find refuge here.
Barbados is currently being impacted by ash fall from the La Soufriere volcano erupting in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The country had been providing berthing and mooring facilities as well as offering resources, food, fuel and water as a home for several cruise liners and their crew who became stranded last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Regis-Prosper explained that Global Ports is now working with both the port and health authorities to see how best the port management company can come to the assistance of these ships, with the safety of the crew and residents of the twin island state remaining paramount.
“For us as the port manager, while we do the facilitation, we always have to wait for approval and guidelines from the local authorities before we can give the full go-ahead as to exactly what could be happening,” she added.
The cruise industry still remains grounded with uncertainty about when and how it will return, but, for Regis-Prosper, as plans continue to advance, this new development could be the rising tide that helps to lift Antigua and Barbuda’s cruise sector to another level.
She explained that the country will benefit in the short term from the revenue generated from bringing in the vessels.
There will also be minor maintenance work on the vessels “under strict protocols” and additional crew will arrive in Antigua and Barbuda to join the ships’ staff.
The ships will also rely on the state to provide other goods and services they may need while here.
For the long term, the general manager explained that the cruise industry is “based on a lot of relationship building”.
“We are assisting the cruise lines in a time they are asking for our help. What’s happening now is we are investing in our relationships with the lines, we are partnering with them. So, as we come out of this pandemic… when we assist persons like that, it will only benefit us in the future,” she added.