Loop- St. Kitts’ Port Zante became a bubble for the arrival of the Celebrity Equinox cruise ship on September 14 as the country continues the phased reopening of the cruise sector.
Upon arrival, the 1,147 passengers along with the captain and crew were welcomed by tourism officials with a plaque exchange ceremony.
“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.”
Describing the Celebrity Equinox’s arrival at Porte Zante as a ‘giant step’ in rebuilding the tourism sector, he said as a destination, St. Kitts is heartened by this first commercial call to Porte Zante since March of 2020.
The Celebrity Equinox is the first ship to dock at Porte Zante since the reopening of the cruise industry in July following an 18-month hiatus.
With the arrival of the Equinox, this marks the first time the destination will receive two cruise vessels in one week in over a year.
Since the restart of the industry, cruise ships have been docking in the Carambola Beach Club area. This made it easier to facilitate bubble tours and control the influx of cruise passengers.
At Porte Zante, different measures had to be put in place as there are several duty-free stores there that would have to be monitored to ensure the safety of all. Porte Zante is located in the capital city Basseterre and typically passengers would leave the ship to walk the town; in a covid19 environment that has become impossible.
As the government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues in its efforts to protect lives and livelihoods, the announcement was made by the Minister of Tourism Hon. Lindsay Grant that a safe bubble at Porte Zante would be in place and cruise visitors would not be permitted to integrate into the local community.
As has been done since the reopening of the cruise industry, the visitors will explore the destination via Travel Approved Fully Vaccinated Tours.
The Ministry of Health and the St. Kitts Tourism Authority have facilitated Travel Approved training which was made mandatory for all persons and entities expected to interact with the ship’s guests. These individuals are also fully vaccinated.
As has been advised with all cruise arrivals since the reopening, 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.
Port Zante has now been added as one of those sites. The others include Brimstone Hill Fortress and National Park, Carambola Beach Club, Caribelle Batik, Fairview Great House, Palms Court Gardens and St. Kitts Scenic Railway.
Visitors explore the destination via ‘Travel Approved’ bubble vaccinated tours only. Cruise passengers will not be seen walking through the streets of Basseterre independently.
Tour Operators are only allowed to transport cruise passengers from the dispatching site directly to the attraction, and after the tour, directly back to the ship.
Minister Grant informed that the federation has received a request for a call on 5October 2021, however, the realization of the call in October and future calls depend heavily on the success of the Celebrity Equinox’s visit on September 14.
“The success of this call will be our success as a nation and is critical to our rebuilding efforts,” he said.
The Royal Caribbean group has been and continues to be a longstanding partner of the destination. Over the years St. Kitts has welcomed vessels from three of their main brands; Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silver Seas.
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