The Antigua Cruise Port, serving the two-island nation of Antigua & Barbuda, marked the start of its lucrative winter cruise season with the arrival of a luxury Seabourn ship on October 7, 2023.
The ship docked at the port’s Heritage Quay, a bustling retail center, where port officials were on hand to welcome the ship and usher in the busy season.
Luxury Seabourn Pursuit is First to Call
Seabourn’s newest luxury expedition ship, Seabourn Pursuit, made her inaugural call to Antigua Cruise Port, in the town of St. John’s, officially kicking off the destination’s winter cruise season.
Port officials and ship’s officers marked the visit with a plaque exchange, a maritime tradition held during a vessel’s first call to a port. Local tourism representatives boarded the ship for the ceremony and met with ship Captain Ertan Vasvi.
“We wish you a warm welcome to Antigua and we hope that both you and your guests enjoy your time here. We also invite you to visit us again soon,” said Jessica Russell, leasing and marketing officer for Antigua Cruise Port.
The 264-guest Seabourn Pursuit is operating a 10-day cruise from Miami to Bridgetown, Barbados. Other port calls include San Juan, Puerto Rico, British Virgin Islands, Martinique, and Bequia, before the ship reaches Barbados.
The sailing to Barbados is a repositioning cruise for Seabourn Pursuit, which entered service following her delivery from a T. Mariotti shipyard in Italy on July 31, 2023. From Barbados, the ship will operate a series of expedition voyages to South America and the Amazon before starting her inaugural Antarctica season later this year.
Antigua Cruise Port is looking ahead to a busy winter season, expecting the most cruise arrivals since the pandemic shutdown. P&O Cruises’ Arvia will homeport in Antigua starting in November. The 5,200-guest ship will sail a series of 14-day Caribbean cruises from Antigua, calling at Tortola, British Virgin Islands; La Romana, Dominican Republic; St. Maarten, St. Kitts, and St. Lucia, among other ports.
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Other cruise ships slated to make port calls in the coming months include Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2,000-guest Norwegian Sky, Princess Cruises’ 3,560-guest Regal Princess, Carnival Cruise Line’s 2,980-guest Carnival Freedom, Holland America Line’s 2,100-guest Eurodam, Star Clippers’ 227-guest Royal Clipper, and Celebrity Cruises’ 3,600-guest Celebrity Reflection.
Port Hopes to Boost Cruise Arrivals
The cruise port is looking to improve on last year’s winter cruise arrivals. In the 2022-23 season, the port saw a rebound, with about 500,000 cruise guests visiting the destination. The island typically receives the most cruise arrivals between January and March of each year. Roughly 332,000 cruise arrivals were recorded during those months of 2023.
Improvements are underway at the port’s Heritage Quay retail center, a major duty-free commercial area, and a new berth, large enough to accommodate Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class vessels, was completed in 2021. Both projects were part of a management agreement the port reached with Global Ports Holding in 2019.
The port’s intention is to attract Oasis-class ships, and it will do so when Royal Caribbean’s 5,500-guest Symphony of the Seas includes Antigua on her 8-night Eastern Caribbean Holiday cruise departing Fort Lauderdale on December 30, 2023. The ship will be the first Oasis-class ship to call at Antigua Cruise Port.
Royal Caribbean’s 2024 cruise schedule indicates that the 3,286-guest Explorer of the Seas, a Voyager-class ship, and the 1,998-guest Rhapsody of the Seas, a Vision-class vessel, also will call at Antigua on Southern Caribbean itineraries.
The port in August 2023 changed local management, naming Cynthia Jacobs-Browne as officer in charge. She replaced former general manager Dona Regis-Prosper, who left the position to become secretary-general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.