Antigua welcomes thousands of cruise passengers aboard vast Celebrity Equinox

Passengers were restricted to ‘bubble’ tours (Photo by Tekiah Minott)
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Premium cruising continued its return to Antigua and Barbuda yesterday when the magnificent Celebrity Equinox sailed into St John’s.

More than 2,000 passengers received a warm welcome from tourism and port officials. The Solstice-class ship was the first large vessel to dock in Antigua since the restart of the cruise season last month.

 “We have truly missed the breathtaking sight of the colossal, larger cruise vessels here at the port, so we are extremely excited to welcome Celebrity Equinox,” said Dona Regis-Prosper, general manager of the Antigua Cruise Port.

“As with other recent cruise ship visits, the disembarkation of passengers was carefully managed to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19. At Antigua Cruise Port, we continue to maintain and enhance our Covid-19 risk mitigation protocols daily to ensure that our facility is as safe as possible for every passenger on every voyage.” 

Passengers were restricted to ‘bubble’ tours (Photo by Tekiah Minott)

Also on hand for the event was Senator Mary-Clare Hurst who said, “The government of Antigua and Barbuda remains committed to increasing the cruise calls to our port, and throughout the pandemic we have been working with the relevant authorities and cruise operators to ensure that we remain a strategic hub for safety, synergy and innovation.” 

She said the government remains committed to ongoing collaboration with cruise lines on the development of heath protocols.  

Recent local amendments require all cruise passengers over 12 years old to be vaccinated. Negative PCR tests must be shown for all children aged two and over, who are not fully vaccinated, before boarding. 

The vast vessel is the largest to return to Antigua since the reopening of the cruise sector (Photo courtesy Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority)

Regis-Prosper said shore excursion experiences would only operate as ‘bubble’ or small-group tours.

“Fully vaccinated crew members will be allowed ashore on pre-approved tours. We have also arranged escorted private tours with the merchants at Heritage Quay,” she said.

Local officials welcomed the captain, crew and guests of the Celebrity Equinox ashore (Photo courtesy Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority)

The ship’s captain, Dimitris Manetas, said the team was “excited” to return to Antigua.

“And to continue to help our Caribbean family regain the benefits of tourism their communities depend on.

“This is just the beginning. We look forward to many more return visits with guests who are excited to enjoy the island’s legendary beaches and hospitality,” he added.  Remedial works at Heritage Quay, including safety and security upgrades to the facility and passenger experience enhancements to further support reducing the risk of spread of Covid-19, are poised to begin.  

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