The Crystal Symphony ship (Photo: SKN News)

Antigua and Barbuda anchors homeporting deal with Crystal Cruises

The Crystal Symphony ship (Photo: SKN News)

Antigua and Barbuda has snagged yet another homeporting deal, with Crystal Cruises, as anticipation of the resumption of cruise tourism activities increases.

Beginning August 5, 2021, the cruise line will offer a series of 10-night ‘Luxury Caribbean Escapes’ on Crystal Symphony, which will sail from St John’s Port in Antigua to neighbouring destinations in Barbados, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, St Maarten, and British Virgin Islands.

Cruise ships berth in St John’s Port in Antigua and Barbuda (Photo: LinkedIn)

“The islands of the Caribbean are a warm welcome back to travelling the world, rich in fascinating history and the kind of natural beauty that astounds even the most seasoned travellers, and St John’s is an ideal home port to begin luxury journeys through such a paradise,” Jack Anderson,
Crystal Cruises’ interim president and CEO, commented.

“Minister Charles Fernandez and his team, and the local tourism businesses throughout the islands, have been working to renew travel to the islands safely and we are thrilled to partner with them to support economic growth in the region and to deliver the kind of luxuries and hospitality Crystal guests have been craving for the past year,” he added.

Jack Anderson, interim president and CEO, Crystal Cruises (Photo: Travel Pulse)

Right through to December, travellers from major US cities will experience “tropical luxuries and ample wide-open spaces to discover the local cultures with plentiful air options”, according to a release from Crystal Cruises.

Moreover, the company promises passengers excursions to the Caribbean’s most celebrated destinations that show off Dutch, French, British and other global influences as well as breathtaking shorelines of brilliant turquoise water and powder-soft beaches. Added to this, guests can shop for souvenirs at local colourful boutiques and enjoy outdoor adventures at each destination.

“The itinerary spends overnights in St John’s, Bridgetown and Phillipsburg, with sunset-sail-aways in Tobago, Castries and Tortola. While uniformly spectacular, each locale boasts its own character and highlights for Crystal guests,” the release outlined.

Returning to the seas

With the return of Crystal Symphony to sailing, Crystal Cruises will have a 97 per cent active oceangoing fleet this summer.

“The islands of the Caribbean are a warm welcome back to travelling the world …and St John’s is an ideal home port to begin luxury journeys through such a paradise”

— Jack Anderson, interim president and CEO, Crystal Cruises (Photo: Travel Pulse)

“We’re looking forward to welcoming our Crystal onboard family back, as well, as Crystal Symphony’s new itinerary, combined with Crystal Serenity’s Luxury Bahamas Escapes and Crystal Endeavor’s Luxury Iceland Expeditions will mean that nearly all of our Ocean crew members will return to work very soon and we know they are as excited about returning to the seas as our guests,” Anderson explained.

Given the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is still a present threat to the global cruise tourism industry, Crystal Cruises has reduced the capacity on its vessels, including Crystal Symphony, to ensure adequate personal and social space during each trip.

St Lucia will welcome calls from the Crystal Symphony cruise ship when the vessel sets sail from St John’s Port in Antigua in August this year. (Photo: Corinne Kutz/Unsplash)

In February, the cruise line announced that guests must be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine at least fourteen days before boarding any of its ships, in line with its Crystal Clean+ measures. In addition, both guests and crew members must have a negative COVID-19 test result, complete health-screening questionnaires, and follow mask requirements.

While the health and safety requirements for each island may vary, Crystal Cruises said it looks forward to adding more ports to its itinerary.

Welcome to Antigua

In welcoming this opportunity to Antigua and Barbuda, Minister of Tourism and Investment Charles Fernandez noted that “this represents an important milestone in reinvigorating tourism here, as well as deeper support of
our island communities’ economies as Crystal becomes the first cruise line to homeport on a scheduled basis in St John’s.

Charles Fernandez, minister of tourism and investment, Antigua and Barbuda
(Photo: antiguabarbuda.the-report.com)

“Together with the local health authorities, we have developed the requisite
health and safety protocols to ensure the protection of residents and our guests,” the tourism minister added.

Fernandez also commended operator of St John’s Port, Global Ports (Antigua) Ltd for its contribution to the homeporting deal.

In response, Done Regis-Prosper, general manager of Global Ports (Antigua) Ltd, reaffirmed the company’s commitment to developing the country’s cruise tourism product.

“We are very happy to play an integral role in restarting cruise travel in the Caribbean after this long pause. Having just completed construction of our fifth berth just in time for the start of the season developing our port health and safety procedures in collaboration with local health authorities, we’re prepared to welcome Crystal guests to this beautiful island,” she added.