St. Kitts Building on Cruise Restart

Celebrity Equinox in St. Kitts

“We are starting on the first phase of our restart of cruise tourism in St. Kitts,” said Lindsay Grant, Minister of Tourism, Transport and Ports for St. Kitts

With the Celebrity Equinox the first ship to call on St. Kitts since the pandemic in September, Minister Grant told Cruise Industry News that for stakeholders on the island, emotions were running high, and the business was welcomed back after an 18-month pause.

St. Kitts has the highest vaccination rate in the Caribbean, with 75.9 percent of residents vaccinated, the Minister said.

“While we were on a hiatus for 18 months we developed our cruise protocols … essentially it was indicating to the cruise lines what was acceptable,” Minister Grant said. “For example, passengers coming in needed to have a PCR test. Now we are down to the fact they can come in with a PCR or Antigen test, and be fully vaccinated.”

Authorities shoreside in St. Kitts have approved tour operators and specific tours based on health guidelines and safety plans, he said, meaning organized tours are run by fully vaccinated tour guides.

For cruise passengers not taking organized tours, the port area is a “travel approved” zone, meaning guests can explore on their own within set boundaries.

As the industry comes back, St. Kitts is well positioned as a marquee port of call on Eastern and Southern Caribbean itineraries, having put the finishing touches on a new pier in 2019; the island can host three Oasis-class ships at once.

“The country is ready, willing and able to accept cruise passengers,” said Minister Grant. 

“Our protocols are in place, they are working well, and it’s safe to come back into St. Kitts,” he said.

In 2018, cruise lines were booking berths about three years out, he continued, noting that the port operates on a first-come first-serve basis for berth bookings.

“We are in a good space to have more summer traffic; it obviously depends on what the supply is.”

Next up are more calls this winter, and the goal to fully open, said the Minister, building upon the destination’s strong vaccination rate and health and safety protocols.

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