Saint Lucia is preparing to welcome its first international cruise ship since closure to the sector amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Following considerable dialogue with local authorities, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has signaled the return of the cruise industry to Saint Lucia after more than a year, naming it as a port-of-call on a mid-July itinerary, that will see Celebrity Millennium make its first voyage of the season to the destination, as well as to sister islands and homeports of St. Marten and Barbados on its Southern Caribbean route.
Preliminary discussions with Royal Caribbean include a commitment that both passengers and crew over the age of 18 years would all have been vaccinated, full compliance to pre-arrival COVID-19 testing, and that tour operations would be conducted within a Green Corridor.
Additionally, all persons disembarking would be subject to the standard protocols of wearing a facemask, physical distancing, and sanitizing.
The overall aim is to ensure that while the cruise sector can continue to benefit the local economy, as a collective, we can also ensure that our local populace is kept safe.
A special committee has been established to provide oversight to the resumption of cruise tourism which include the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Health, Port Health, Saint Lucia Air & Sea Ports Authority, Invest Saint Lucia, Customs, Immigration, Port Security, Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority and Cruise Agencies – Cox and Company Limited and Foster and Ince.
Tourism Minister-Honorable Dominic Fedee said: “We are enthusiastic that with the advent of science and technology amid this pandemic, we can prepare for a silver lining. The impact of the cruise sector has been noted the world over and its absence has left an impression on our island’s people. We are therefore looking forward to working within strict protocol to see the successful resumption of the sector.”
Dialogue with all key sector agencies have delved into the health and safety facet which remains of paramount interest. Over the next few weeks, the dialogue will be heightened with suppliers and other operators. The committee will meet regularly to closely review and approve protocols for the resumption of the cruise industry, port health procedures, review of the terminal and its operations and logistics for the execution of excursions within protocol.
Discussions are ongoing with several cruise partners that aim to see more vessels schedule their call into Port Castries in the near future.