As the country continues its phased restoration of the cruise sector, St Kitts’ Port Zante became a bubble for the arrival of the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship on September 14.
The 1,147 passengers, as well as the captain and crew, were greeted by tourist officials with a plaque exchange ceremony upon arrival.
“Today really is a day of hope. It is my pleasure to welcome back to our shores the captain and the crew of the Celebrity Equinox to St Kitts,” said Minister of Tourism Lindsay Grant. “This day has been long in coming and has been long anticipated as we continue our phased approach to the rebuilding of the tourism sector.”
He described the arrival of the Celebrity Equinox at Porte Zante as a “huge stride” in the tourism sector’s recovery, saying that as a destination, St Kitts is encouraged by this first commercial visit to Porte Zante since March 2020.
Since the cruise industry reopened in July after an 18-month hiatus, the Celebrity Equinox is the first ship to dock at Porte Zante.
With the arrival of the Equinox, the destination will receive two cruise ships in one week for the first time in almost a year.
Cruise ships have begun docking in the Carambola Beach Club region since the industry reopened. It became easier to organize bubble tours and manage the influx of cruise guests as a result of this.
Different procedures had to be put in place at Porte Zante because there were multiple duty-free establishments that needed to be monitored to ensure everyone’s safety. Porte Zante is located in the capital city of Basseterre, and in a covid19 setting, guests would normally depart the ship to roam around the city.
As the government of St Kitts and Nevis works to preserve lives and livelihoods, Minister of Tourism Hon. Lindsay Grant announced that a protective bubble would be established at Porte Zante, and cruise tourists would not be allowed to blend into the local community.
Visitors will explore the destination via Travel Approved Fully Vaccinated Tours, as has been done since the reopening of the cruise industry.
Travel Approved training has been made mandatory for all persons and entities expected to interact with the ship’s guests by the Ministry of Health and the St Kitts Tourism Authority. These people have also been fully vaccinated.
The Tourism Authority has announced that while a cruise ship is in port, the general public is not permitted to access the ‘Travel Approved’ bubble vaccinated attraction sites from 6am to 6pm, as has been advised with all cruise arrivals since the reopening.
Port Zante has now been added to the list of those locations. Brimstone Hill Fortress and National Park, Carambola Beach Club, Caribelle Batik, Fairview Great House, Palms Court Gardens, and St Kitts Scenic Railway are among the others.
Only ‘Travel Approved’ bubble vaccinated tours are available for visitors to explore the destination. Cruise passengers will not be seen wandering the streets of Basseterre on their own.
Tour operators are only permitted to transport cruise passengers directly from the dispatching location to the attraction and back to the ship after the tour.
Minister Grant informed the federation that the federation had received a request for a call on October 5, 2021; however, the realization of the call in October and future calls is heavily dependent on the success of the Celebrity Equinox’s visit on September 14.
“The success of this call will be our national success, and it is critical to our rebuilding efforts,” he said.
The Royal Caribbean group has long been and continues to be a partner of the destination. St Kitts has welcomed ships from three of their major brands over the years: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silver Seas.