Antigua and Barbuda is preparing to welcome the arrival of the largest cruise vessel to dock in St John’s Harbour since the restart of the industry this year.
During an interview with Observer, the General Manager of Antigua Cruise Port, Dona Regis-Prosper said that “about 1,200” passengers are expected aboard the-the Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Equinox ship, which is due to arrive at 8 this morning.
She said that after having had all successful cruise calls since the reopening, “we are now ready to take it one step further.”
“This is a modest restart and we firmly believe that this is the best way to restart during an active pandemic. So, we started off with smaller brands, luxury brands, with just about 250 passengers on board and so far, we’ve had six calls with that type of category of cruiselines and it has been successful thus far,” she explained.
The first cruise ship to return to the destination was Windstar Cruises’ Sea Breeze, a 204-passenger ship, which docked in St John’s on July 15.
Over 60 fully-vaccinated passengers disembarked the vessel to enjoy organised tours around the country.
Similarly, Regis-Prosper said that the movement of the passengers hoping to disembark will be limited.
“Again, out of the abundance of caution, we are still only doing bubble tours and what that means is that it’s only persons who have purchased tours onboard the cruiselines would disembark the vessel and go and do their tours. There would be also shopping tours into Heritage Quay and Vendors Mall, but these would be guided tours,” she explained.
The Cruise Port’s manager further indicated that “if there are any unfortunate incidences, it’s so much easier to manage it like that”.
She further stated that while she is hopeful for the day that tourists will be allowed to tour the country more freely, the port’s management must rely on advice from the health community.
“We are dealing with a crisis that is based on science and it is also based on the guidance that we will receive as the port operator from the local health authority. So, we will await the guidelines as to when they believe that this is right time to do it,” she remarked.