With dredging of the St John’s Harbour ongoing and the completion of the country’s fifth berth, the General Manager of Antigua Cruise Port, Dona Regis-Prosper, remains hopeful that the country will welcome its first oasis class ship by the end of 2021.
As the world’s largest and longest passenger vessels, the mammoth Oasis-class ships surpass the earlier Freedom-class ships and can carry over 5,400 passengers.
The news of the country’s multimillion dollar fifth berth is already racking up major interest amongst cruse insiders according to international media reports, including interest from Royal Caribbean International.
“It’s not just about getting the Oasis-class vessels, but it is having the product, having the services available to passengers so we can have that economic impact,” Regis-Prosper told Observer. “I think that is where profitability comes in.”
She explained that there is a two-year planning cycle within the industry, adding that the country is expected to see the “longer term benefits” two years from now.
The Antigua Cruise Port Manager believes that the country will be poised to see major benefits based on present work at the port, and efforts to promote and improve the destination’s overall tourism product by the Ministry of Tourism.
“The product is very, very important in terms of both the sustainability of this industry, as well as the profitability for the stakeholders that are involved in this industry,” Regis-Prosper added.
By the end of September, the country recorded 18 calls to its port with about 4,328 passengers since the “modest restart” of the cruise industry in July.
Cruise passenger arrivals are expected to increase into November with 29,020 people expected and about 37,000 passengers expected in December.
Plans are for the cruise port’s management to shift focus to the $2 million upgrade of Heritage Quay Shopping Mall and the $25 million commercial development at Point.
Those plans include new retail and dining facilities, plus an additional 50,000 square feet of commercial space to be put up for lease.