The announcements by Crystal Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity Cruises to start cruising the Caribbean are now causing a ripple effect through the region.
The British Virgin Islands, the tiny island group world-famous for its white sandy beaches and beautiful blue waters, announced they would be opening up for cruises once again. The first step for the island group will be the opening of the cruise ship pier in Tortola.
Celebrity Cruises To Be The First Call
The government approved the reopening of the cruise port for June 2021 for cruise vessels with fully vaccinated passengers and crew.
From June 2021, Celebrity Millennium is scheduled to be one of the first international passenger cruise ships to make calls to the area. As we reported last week, the vessel will be homeporting out of St. Maarten. The itinerary includes stops to Tortola, St. Lucia, and Barbados.
Mrs. Oleanvine Maynard, Ag. Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority stated:
“We are so excited to be part of this new regional itinerary and while the cruise experience will be different than it was pre-pandemic, we are committed to providing our cruise partners and their guests a safe and enjoyable cruise stop.”
The return of cruise ships to the area will be a welcome sight for the locals. Since March last year, there have been no calls from any ships to the islands, which can usually count on many ships visiting the area.
The safety aspect does play a role for the British Virgin Islands. As a small nation, an outbreak will be felt much harder here than in a large city. That’s why the country accepts only ships that sail with 100% vaccinated passengers and crew members, while several additional safety measures must also be in place.
According to the press release, The port authority and The Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park (CBRTPP) teams will be partnering with the Ministry of Health and Social Development, BVI Tourist Board, Local Cruise Agents, and the Cruise Lines that want to call to ensure a healthy return to cruising for the Territory.
Mr. Vance Lewis, CEO of the pier, commented:
“The health and safety of the cruise guests, crew and our local community is our top priority and we will be working very closely with all partners to ensure for a safe resumption of this sector.”
It is a requirement that all passengers, including crew, must be fully vaccinated upon boarding the ship if they are over 18 years of age. Additionally, Covid-19 outbreak prevention precautions comprise pre-screening, embarkation precautions, and testing of passengers.
The Economic Aspect
The British Virgin Islands have been hard hit by the lack of tourism from cruise ships and long-stay guests. The economic aspect of this is a testament as to why that is. In 2018, a year when Hurricane Irma destroyed large parts of the islands, the total income from cruise passengers and crew members totaled almost $12 million.
140.000 guests visited the archipelago that year, while ordinarily, without hurricanes, this number is 60% higher. With the re-opening of the port in June, the British Virgin Islands will join multiple other islands that have made the same decisions.
Aruba, Curacao, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, the Bahamas with either Royal Caribbean or Crystal Cruises, and Cozumel will witness cruise traffic starting up in a short few months. With the restart in the UK, the successful cruises in Singapore and Europe, and now the start of cruises in the Caribbean, we will surely see more places opening up in the next few weeks.
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