St. Lucia tourism officials staged a festive welcome ceremony for P&O Cruises’ newest ship, Arvia, when it called at Port Castries on January 18. Singers and dancers in traditional costumes entertained cruisers as they disembarked for their island visit.
Tourism Officials Roll Out Welcome Mat for Arvia
P&O Cruises’ new 5,200-guest Arvia made its inaugural call to St. Lucia as she repositioned from Southampton to her winter homeport in Barbados. Arvia is the first Excel-class ship to visit St. Lucia, and local officials celebrated her arrival with speeches, music and a Plaque Exchange Ceremony. The ship entered service in December.
On hand for the big welcome were representatives from the Ministry of Tourism, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Saint Lucia Air & Sea Ports Authority, Invest Saint Lucia, cruise agents Cox & Company Limited, and the St. Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association.
Lorine Charles-St Jules, CEO of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, said, “Arvia’s visit is reflective of the government’s intentional approach to continuously position the destination within the cruise realm. Saint Lucia is committed to delivering memorable travel experiences that make cruising one of the great ways to appreciate the destination.”
She added, “At every opportunity, we dialogue with cruise partners on plans for welcoming and increasing cruise arrivals and expanding the island’s enchanting product offerings.”
The plaque ceremony was held at the port and there were speeches by other tourism officials, as well, including Castries Mayor Geraldine Lendor, who welcomed the ship’s roughly 4,000 guests to the island.
President of the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association Paul Collymore said he looks forward to the business that guests will bring for members of his association.
Arvia Captain Paul Brown said he is thrilled to be back in Saint Lucia, leading his team and cruise guests for the vessel’s maiden call to Port Castries. Also on hand was P&O Cruises Vice President of Port and Shore Operations of Carnival UK, Sander Groothuis.
Local officials said the itinerary for Arvia’s inaugural visit was designed to offer passengers the best possible island experiences, including exploring its natural beauty and rich culture, visiting the world-renowned Pitons, hiking the island’s rainforest, and enjoying its culinary offerings.
Like other Caribbean destinations, St. Lucia is aiming for a resurgence in cruise arrivals. For the first 10 months of 2022, the island received about 180,000 cruise visitors. The island’s pre-pandemic cruise arrivals number for the same timeframe in 2019 was 570,000, according to TourismAnalytics.
Arvia Will Homeport in Barbados
Arvia, the cruise line’s second Excel-class ship after Iona, departed Southampton on January 6 to reposition to the Caribbean for a series of winter cruises from Barbados.
The ship’s naming ceremony is set for March 16 in Barbados. P&O said the ceremony will feature some of Britain’s most popular performers and presenters, and will be broadcast live online to a global audience.
From Barbados, the ship will sail a series of 7- and 14-day cruises. Seven-day sailings will call at Tortola, Dominican Republic, St. Maarten, and Antigua-Barbuda, while 14-day cruises will visit those ports and also call at St. Kitts and Nevis, Martinique and St. Lucia.
The 184,700-gross-ton vessel has 20 dining options and four cabin categories. Entertainment venues include the Limelight Club and Headliner’s Theater, plus an escape room.