BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - FOR the first time on any given day since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic four cruise vessels had docked at Port Zante.
This comes as the sector is slowly rebounding from the shocks brought on by the pandemic in which cruising was brought to a halt and strict measures were implemented by the United States-based Center for Disease Control (CDC) and governments at various destinations around the region, including St. kitts and Nevis.
In an effort to rebuild the sector, tourism officials in the twin-island Federation had held discussions with management of the cruise lines with the aim of vessels making calls to Port Zante.
Those discussions have been fruitful and are reflected in the number of vessels making calls since the sector has reopened its ports.
Tourism Minister Lindsay Grant told reporters that today, (Dec. 7), is a significant reflection of the hard work the teams at the Ministry of Tourism and the St. Kitts Tourism Authority were engaged in with the cruise lines in persuading them to return to the Federation.
“We have been planning this for the last 18 months, putting everything in place, dotting the Is and crossing the Ts to make sure that when the day comes as it has today. We are more than ready to welcome the thousands of visitors here today,” Grant said.
Today, the Federation welcomed the Aida Luna and three other vessels under the Celebrity class - Apex, Constellation and Equinox.
Reflecting on the level of calls made to the Federation last month, Grant noted that it was a great rebound period for the sector which saw 4,100 passengers travelling on 32 calls to Port Zante.
This is a case study for what is to come for the remainder of the month, as officials are expecting to receive 62 calls during that period.
It was reported that on one day during this month, six vessels are expected to make call to the Federation.
“It is really going to be a very fantastic December. Not for the Ministry of Tourism, and not for the St. Kitts Tourism, but for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis and for the vendors, for the taxi drivers and for the tour operators, for the hair braiders,” Grant stated.
The Federation had once basked in the glory of receiving one million cruise passengers in a single season; something the Minister noted that is not likely to be achieved during this season or the coming one.
He however disclosed that they have set a take of 300,000 cruise visitors for the season; an idea that many would not think is possible following the late start of the cruise season by St. Kitts.