Antigua and Barbuda experienced a bonanza of cruise business Wednesday when Pullmantur's Bleu de France was diverted from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, after several days of a general strike over the high cost of living that shut down that island's tourism sector, closed schools and fuel stations.
13,000 passengers and a total of 5 ships descended on St. John's. 4 of the ships were on the schedule but Bleu de France was not. This is the third straight week that Bleu de France has requested berthing facilities in Antigua. Since the 4 berths at Redcliffe and Heritage Quays were already booked for the arrival of Carnival Freedom, Aida Advita, MSC's Orchestra and Carnival Oceana, arrangements were made for Bleu de France to dock at the Port Authority's DeepWater Harbour port. Arrangements were also made with the St. John's Taxi Association for shuttle service between the Deep Water Harbour and Heritage and the town area.
The Carnival Freedom had 3,103 passengers and 1,145 crew members, Aida Vita had 1,242 passengers and 404 crew members, the MSC Orchestra brought 2,558 passengers and 890 crew members, the Oceana had 2,003 passengers and 890 crew members while Bleu De France arrived with 551 passengers and 413 crew members.