Visit of cruise ship is key to building relationships for the future

One of the two Celebrity Cruises ships that sailed into St. John’s Harbour over the weekend is leaving today, but it will be replaced by another vessel on Wednesday.

That vessel, Celebrity Reflection, according to General Manager of Antigua Cruise Port (ACP), Dona Regis, will spend a total of ten days in the harbour undergoing minor maintenance.

The crew on board the vessels are not allowed to ‘mingle’ with the local population because of the strict health protocols that have been put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, Regis said the visit by the three vessels will have some economic benefits to the country.

“The vessels pay port charges while docked at the St John’s Harbour and there’s every likelihood that they will need water, fuel and to re-provision here in Antigua. There will be some crew change-over so some taxis will be employed to make the airport transfers. Additionally, the maintenance crew for the Reflection will fly into Antigua and stay at a local hotel during the time they are here,” she reported.

However, the ACP general manager is looking beyond the short-term benefits of the vessels’ visit to Antigua and Barbuda this time around. “We are looking at these arrangements as an opportunity to help the cruise lines at a time when they needed assistance. These vessels were docked in Barbados but were forced to move because of the ash fallout from the La Soufriere Volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines. By offering our port as they sought a safe haven from the ash, we are proving that we are partners and reliable ones at that,” she emphasised.

According to Regis, in a time of a dual crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and the volcanic eruptions from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda is extending a helpful hand to the cruise lines which she believes could be reciprocated with commitments for further strengthening of these ties in the future.

Meanwhile, the restart of the cruise tourism season is slated for June or July this year when the Seaborne makes the first cruise call for the year. Additionally, arrangements have been finalised for at least one vessel to home-port in the St John’s Harbour from August to December this year.

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