By Theresa Goodwin
A local shipping agent for vessels anchoring in Antigua and Barbuda is advising taxi drivers, tour operators and others who benefit directly from the Cruise Tourism Sector to spend wisely as they brace for a financial fallout due to mass cancellations by several cruise lines.
This is as a direct result of the impact of the novel coronavirus which has forced several countries in the region to close ports of entry, as well as widespread cancellations from major cruise lines.
“I want to encourage all our cruise stakeholders to be wise in the use of their financial resources at this time, because we do not know how long this situation will last,” was the advise from the Manager of Brysons Shipping, Nathan Dundas.
Over the weekend Cruise Lines International (CLIA) announced that cruise lines that are members of the association will be suspending all sailings over the next 30-60 days.
Those include Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises.
Further confirmation of the cancellations came from Dundas, who is also Director of the Caribbean Shipping Association.
He told OBSERVER media that the company has received notice of cancellations from all US-based cruise lines as well as vessels based in Europe.
He said while this will translate into the loss of millions of dollars, the lives of local citizens are more important and it is crucial that locals follow the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
The cruise tourism official also indicated that the mass cancellations also brought a premature end to the winter cruise tourism season, which was expected to end in April 2020.
Based on the cancellations, Dundas said, only a few vessels will be making the last of scheduled calls for the season by the end of next week.
Meantime, Global Chairman for CLIA Adam Goldstein told the media that the decision to cancel calls to the region was not taken lightly and the association wants the travelling public to know that the commitment of the industry is putting people first.
“During this time, we will continue to work with the CDC and others to prepare for resumption of sailings when it is appropriate. We know the travel industry is a huge economic engine for the United States and when our ships once again sail, our industry will be a significant contributor to fueling the economic recovery,” Goldstein said.