St Vincent and the Grenadines is expected to welcome its first cruise call on August 7 from Seabourn Odyssey. Its arrival will mark the first cruise call for the 2021/2022 season.
Minister of Tourism Carlos James made the announcement at a news conference earlier this week.
He said the Seabourn Odyssey is likely to arrive in Port Elizabeth where they are hoping to have a continuous period of calls at least every other Saturday from August until October 2021.
James indicated that 224 calls are expected to their destination this cruise season. “This is the early stages and we expect to see more calls being added to SVG as a destination,” he said.
The tourism minister explained that this is all subject to what transpires with COVID-19 both locally and abroad.
He added that SVG will have 14 inaugural calls, vessels which will visit the island for the very first time. It is expected to become so busy that 19 vessels will be arriving on the same day.
Giving a further breakdown, Port Kingstown will receive 105 calls, Port Elizabeth-59, Mayreau-35, Tobago Cays-12, Union Island- 11 and Canouan-2.
The tourism minister noted that SVG had a challenging period as it relates to COVID-19 which affected travel to the destination both by air and sea.
In 2020, visitor arrival numbers were very bleak where tourism numbers fell way below 56 per cent. Stayover visitors and airline arrivals fared worst where each recorded around an 80 per cent decline to the corresponding period of 2019.
In terms of cruise ship arrivals, in 2019 SVG welcomed over 110,000 visitors to its shores.
In 2020, St Vincent and the Grenadines had zero cruise ship passengers disembark onto its shores.
James said: “This year I don’t think any of us in the industry can afford to experience the difficulties we had over the last year.”
He said they have finalised draft protocols for cruise lines arriving in SVG which will allow for the early and safe resumption of cruise.
James made it clear that the safety of the local population and guests is their greatest priority as SVG embarks on the resumption of cruise and tourism generally.
The protocols will aid in reducing the risk of importation and transmission of the COVID-19 virus to SVG and minimises exposure of the general population to arriving passengers
He said passengers and crew of the respective cruise lines when they arrive in SVG are expected to be fully vaccinated. Passengers will no longer be allowed to disembark and walk freely into Kingstown or any other location which is not sanctioned by the tourism ministry and COVID-19 Taskforce
The minister said sites will be identified where passengers will be able to visit and it will be done in a controlled way.