BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (Friday 10th September 2021)-“The realization of the call in October and the future calls depends very heavily on the success of the Celebrity Equinox’s visit.”
So said Tourism Minister Lindsay Grant while speaking at a press conference held on Monday 6th september 2021 on the topic of the scheduled Thursday 14th September 2021 vessel visit which is expected to arrive with over 1400 passengers to Port Zante-an area that will become a bubble during cruise ship dockings.
Notably, Celebrity Equinox will be the first large ship to make a call to Port Zante since March 2020, and will do so according to protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Grant: “The success of this call will be our success as a nation and is critical to our rebuilding efforts. As we experience these small successes, we anticipate that they will propel us to expand our product and service offering to include more vendors and more operators.”
He described the awaited arrival as a “giant step for us” whilst adding “and we need each and every one of you to make this call and future calls as we slowly rebuild the sector. When we receive celebrity Equinox on the 14th of September, all eyes will be on us. Other cruise lines and destinations will be monitoring the success of our call. We must therefore do all that we can do to make this call a success.”
The Tourism Minister talked about what will be expected when cruise ships dock during the first phase.
“We are still in our first phase of our rebuilding efforts. While the ship will dock at Port Zante, guests will not be permitted to integrate into our society. Hence, during the first phase, you will not see our passengers walking through the streets of Basseterre independently.”
He continued: “We are craving your indulgence, understanding and patience during this time as we seek to implement strategies to assist our stakeholders who have been closed for the past 18 months or who have been opened but barely getting by. We understand the struggle of all who depend heavily on the cruise industry for their livelihood. At this time we are seeking your full cooperation. Slow and steady is the current approach as we are in our first phase of our rebuilding strategy.”
We know you are anxious to get back out to work but we must continue with a plan that balances safety and economics.
Grant informed that work is being done to finalize the logistics of making Port Zante a bubble.
“I want you to understand our intention is to get you back to earning so that your businesses can survive and you can provide for your families but we must do so safely. We cannot open the floodgates all at once. We are currently in our third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and it is critical for us to understand that for our safety and their own safety, visitors arriving to our shores on cruise vessels will explore the destination via travel approved fully vaccinated tours, and so as the Celebrity Equinox arrives at Port Zante, Port Zante itself will become a bubble. We are at this time working assiduously with the COVID-19 Task Force, the UDC, tour operators and retail operators at Port Zante to finalize the logistics of this bubble.”
The Tourism Minister highlighted that in addition, all individuals interacting with cruise ship guests including SCASPA security, custom, immigration, retail operators, vendors, taxi and tour operators, bus operators and attraction site employees must have completed the Travel Approved training facilitated by the St. Kitts Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Health and their partners and must be fully vaccinated.