The captain of one of the two cruise ships that were in port on Saturday has praised Antiguan and Barbudan authorities for the significant improvements made to the St. John’s Harbour.
Speaking with reporters at the Heritage Quay Pier on Saturday during the Norwegian Getaway’s inaugural call, Captain Luigi De Angelis said he was impressed with the positive changes since his last visit to the country six years ago.
“I consider myself someone who has visited Antigua several times over the last twenty years. My last visit was six years ago and coming in today with the ship, I was really, really amazed with the progress and changes that welcomed me in terms of terminal, piers, facilities and other amenities that I felt safe and welcomed on arriving in Antigua,” he said.
Captain De Angelis said he had looked forward to the visit just as much as his 3,308 guests.
He added that the call is one of several that Norwegian Getaway will make to St. John’s this winter cruise season.
“Antigua is one of the destinations that many of our guests want to visit. We will be making additional stops at Antigua every ten to twelve days up until the beginning of summer, 2023.
“It’s an ideal itinerary and Antigua is certainly one of the popular destinations,” Captain De Angelis said.
Meanwhile, Operations Manager of Antigua Cruise Port, Rawle Reynolds, has reported that the industry has seen a significant rebound from the last two COVID-affected cruise seasons.
Reynolds said while a few lingering issues remain to be resolved, all signs point to a hugely successful season.
“We have seen a [resurgence] of the cruise sector as we are about back to 95 percent…where it was before.
“There are one or two logistical stuff that we have to pay attention to, but overall things are looking up,” he said.
As part of preparations to welcome each cruise ship, Reynolds explained that there is a comprehensive checklist that must be completed before vessels can dock.
The checklist covers many areas including passenger safety and the safe arrival of the vessel in the harbour.
There are also COVID-19 protocols that remain in place for the protection and security of all persons aboard the ships.
“Prior to the pandemic, a welcome ceremony such as we are having today would have taken place on board the vessel, but we are here on the pier as cruise lines are still not taking any chances with the possibility of an outbreak of any disease on board,” Reynolds said.
The other vessel to call on Saturday was the Celebrity Silhouette which arrived with over two thousand passengers.