Discussions have been finalised that will lead to at least two cruise ships relocating from Barbados to St John’s Harbour for what is described in the cruise industry as ‘lay-up.’
At Thursday’s post-Cabinet briefing, Information Minister Melford Nicholas revealed that the government has given the green light to the arrangement, subject to final approval from the Ministry of Health.
Under the arrangement, at least two cruise ships may opt to relocate to Antigua and Barbuda because of the ash-fall from the La Soufriere Volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines which has severely affected areas of Barbados.
General manager of Antigua Cruise Ports Dona Regis further disclosed that two cruise lines owned by Celebrity Cruises will relocate to St John’s and that a third vessel from another cruise line may likely follow suit. “We are working closely with the Ministry of Health which must give the green light before any such arrangements can proceed as strict health protocols will be in place ahead of the vessels’ arrival,” she explained.
According to Regis, the vessels can arrive in Antigua as early as Saturday if the Ministry of Health gives the clearance for them to come.
“Under the arrangement, the vessel will arrive and dock at one of the piers in the St John’s harbour where they will power down for an extended period of time. Additionally, several maintenance work will be carried out. There are also going to be crew change overs, creating some economic activity for hotels and taxi drivers while here,” she stated.
Regis further explained that the crew members will be required to stay aboard the vessels as adherence to the health protocols will be empahasised at all times.
This ‘lay-up’ arrangement differs from the home-porting where vessels will be based in Antigua for five months and would be the base from which they begin their respective cruises. That arrangement takes effect from this year August and runs until December.
The Cabinet Notes reported that cruise ship operators are examining the success of the administration in reducing infections; the extent to which inoculations have been administered to the population of taxi drivers, shop operators, vendors, restaurateurs—all those people with whom their cruise passengers are likely to have contact when onshore. These will be taken into account when deciding which destinations they will serve, beginning June 2021.