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Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Edge berth at St John's Port on Sunday, April 17, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Antigua Cruise Port)

Antigua welcomes Celebrity Cruises vessels after a year of closure

Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Edge berth at St John's Port on Sunday, April 17, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Antigua Cruise Port)

Antigua has had the opportunity to welcome three Celebrity Cruises vessels that called on its ports in the last fortnight, a sign that the island is preparing to resume cruise tourism activities.

“While the ship calls are short term, they will bring some economic benefits to Antigua as the vessels will require maintenance work, crew embarkation services, and other forms of assistance…”

On Saturday, April 17, a delegation of Government officials was on hand at the St John’s Port to welcome Celebrity Silhouette, which docked at the facility overnight.

Last Wednesday, Celebrity Reflection called on the port to receive 14 crew members.

The following day, Celebrity Edge berthed in the port for a period of 10 days while its 60-member crew conducted maintenance work on the vessel.

Celebrity Reflection (Photo: Ship Technology)

No passengers aboard

According to a release from Antigua Cruise Port, the vessels did not transport any passengers and crew members did not receive permission to disembark.

“Recently, these vessels remained on warm lay-up in Barbados. However, due to weather concerns tied to the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines a few weeks ago, special permission to call on St John’s was granted by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda after strict health protocol requirements were satisfied,” the release outlined.

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

However, the company said it was eager to assist Celebrity Cruises and its local agent, Bryson. To this end, it thanked the Antigua and Barbuda Government “for their support of the facilitation of the cruise line partners in such difficulties”.

In response, Celebrity Cruises has thanked Antigua Cruise Port for its quick response in assisting their displaced vessels.

“While the ship calls are short term, they will bring some economic benefits to Antigua as the vessels will require maintenance work, crew embarkation services, and other forms of assistance including taxi transfers, hotel stays, provisioning services, and refuelling services,” Antigua Cruise Port explained.

A year in waiting

Cruise Lines International Association stops sailing for 60 days

The berthing of the Celebrity Cruises vessels come one year after the St John’s Port welcomed the last ship before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced its closure. During that time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspended the operation of US-based cruise lines.

However, with the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines across the world, stakeholders in the global cruise industry are anticipating gradual resumption of travel by the second half of this year.

Antigua Cruise Port noted that the calls will, therefore, serve as testing opportunities for confirmed summer calls — including homeporting privileges with P&O Cruises and Crystal Cruises

Antigua Cruise Port lands homeporting deal with P&O Cruises

In the meantime, the port management company said its team will continue working closely with the Government and relevant health authorities to ensure strict adherence to the approved health measures, which will help the cruise sector to continue to gain traction in the short and long term.