Cruise tourism stakeholders are finalising plans ahead of this weekend’s inaugural call and welcome festivities for the first vessel to homeport in Saint John’s, P&O Cruises Arvia.
On Monday, Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez toured the fifth berth facility where the vessel will be docked to facilitate the exchange of passengers this Saturday.
Approximately 800 passengers who will arrive in Antigua and Barbuda on chartered flights will be transferred to Heritage Quay to board the Arvia.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, the entire exercise is logistics driven between air and seaport personnel and transportation service providers.
“We look forward to this exercise with great anticipation as it forms part of the plan to expand our cruise tourism platform. We anticipate that this activity will reap significant rewards for several of our stakeholders including our taxi operators,” said Minister Fernandez.
The tourism minister expressed satisfaction with the added infrastructure at the fifth berth that is currently being outfitted with security, baggage, immigration, and customs resources to ensure that the transition process is seamless.
General Manager of Antigua Cruise Port, Dona Regis-Prosper explained that the homeporting arrangement is historic for two reasons.
“Firstly, the Arvia is the largest vessel to dock in Antigua with a capacity of over 5,200 passengers and 1,600 crew and secondly, this is the first of three homeporting operations scheduled for between now and March. So, it serves as the foundation which is extremely important.”
Homeporting occurs when a ship uses a port or marine terminal as its base, regardless of its port of registry. This allows passengers to begin and end a cruise at the homeport, which positively impacts the local economy.
Antigua and Barbuda is positioning itself to become one of the premier homeporting destinations in the southern Caribbean.