With the busiest time upon the Caribbean Islands, the British Virgin Islands is doing what it can to welcome the cruise industry en masse. With a wide variety of safety measures that will ensure the health of residents and cruise ship passengers health, the area is ready for what it hopes will be close to the level of ships visiting the islands in the past.
British Virgin Islands Ready to Welcome Cruise Ship Calls
The winter months in the Northern Hemisphere have always been the busiest time for the Caribbean islands. It will not be any different this year for the British Virgin Islands.
Premier and Minister of Tourism Andrew Fahie says the islands are looking forward to the cruise ships’ visits to return to pre-covid levels when for the entire 2017/2018 cruise year, the estimated 124,857 cruise passengers who visited BVI spent a total of $9.8 million.
What is clear is that the British Virgin Islands remain a top destination for cruise ships, with many luxury cruise lines favoring the smaller outlying islands such as Jost van Dyke and Virgin Gorda, while bigger ships visit the capital Road Town and the cruise ship pier that is present here.
Junior Tourism Minister Sharie deCastro received a considerable amount of interest from all cruise companies: “The cruise industry is confident in our territory to deliver an excellent cruise product for their guests,” the junior tourism minister said.
The islands will need to be kept safe, and while the cruise industry is certainly doing its part, the islands themselves do their part.
This month, the BVI only expects four calls from cruise ships: Seabourn Odyssey twice, Viking Orion, and The World. The ships will be visiting more frequently in November with 15 calls from ships like Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Escape, Celebrity Edge, Disney Fantasy, and more.
In December, the islands expect 36 cruise ship calls, and in January the cruise tourism industry will be truly up and running, with 47 calls expected. Keeping everyone safe will be an essential factor when cruise ships do start visiting in large numbers again. For that, the government has set up several initiatives.
First of all, all cruise line passengers above the age of 12 need to be fully vaccinated and pass an antigen test before sailing onboard a ship calling at the BVI. Something that is now standard practice on board the ships.
Bubble tours will also be part of the procedures, although according to BVInews.com, not every time. The news outlet quotes the Premier, Andrew Fahie, saying if BVI is the first stop for cruise ships, passengers would have done two PCR tests to confirm their negative COVID status.
In the meantime, tour operators and taxi drivers are required to agree to bi-weekly testing and other requirements stipulated by the Tourist’s Board. The taxis or vans will need to be thoroughly sanitized between carrying cruise ship guests and local residents.
“After providing cruise passenger transport, public transportation operators are expected to check out by stopping at a sanitisation and disinfection station managed by the Taxi & Livery Commission and the Environmental Health Board,” DeCastro said, “After the sanitisation and disinfection requirements, the vehicles will be inspected and relevant information logged, public transport operators will be officially discharged,” she added.
The return of cruise ships in more significant numbers to the area will be a welcome sight for the locals. Between March of last year and June of this year, there have been no calls from any ships to the islands. From July, the traffic has been steadily picking up again.