The ongoing developments at the St. John’s Harbour, which now allows the country to accommodate the world’s largest cruise ships, have come in for more commendation from the captain of the MSC Seashore.
Captain Dino Sagani made the very favourable observations when his ship visitedAntigua and Barbuda on Saturday.
In a brief ceremony to welcome the vessel, Captain Sagani said he was a young first officer on a cruise ship in the late 1990’s when he first visited Antigua and Barbuda.
He recalled that navigating the channel into the St. John’s Harbour relied heavily upon the experience and knowledge of the late Chief Pilot of the Port Authority, Captain Edwardson Greene.
Sagani welcomed the modernisation efforts and equipment upgrades which were not available thirty years ago which now make entering St. John’s Harbour is less challenging. He said these efforts will benefit both the visiting cruise ships and the country.
“I [am] very impressed with the developments especially with the berths that are available as well as the swing (turning basin) for us to turn around when we are leaving.
“These are important to cruise operators as even the channel is now widened and deepened and there are now buoys marking the shallow areas. It’s very impressive,” he said.
He also advised the port authority and Antigua Cruise Port to continue their work to develop the port as this is critically important if Antigua and Barbuda is to continue to benefit from cruise tourism, particularly as ships are becoming larger.
“[MSC Seashore is] 170,000, and in less than two years you are going to be having, based in this area, another of our ships that will be even larger and powered by LNG which is more environmentally friendly as that’s what we are doing here at MSC.
“So, we are certainly looking for new ports to visit often and to develop strong relationships.
“Antigua is a very beautiful island; I remember using a bike to travel to a neighbouring beach. It was so lovely,” he remarked.
MSC Cruises, which is based in Italy, has a total of twenty cruise ships in its fleet. According to Captain Sagani, the cruise line plans to increase its fleet by six in the coming years.
Six luxury vessels will also be added.
MSC Cruises is one of two cruise lines which is recruiting Antiguans and Barbudans for employment aboard its vessels.