Antigua Cruise Port welcomed Viking OCEAN' ship Viking Orion at Port St Johns, on Friday (October 29) with an inauguration ceremony including the participation of the Ministry of Tourism & Investment and ABTA-Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority.
The 930-passenger boat is sailing at less than 50% capacity with just 368 passengers onboard in alignment with the Viking Cruises Health & Safety Program which includes a comprehensive COVID prevention and mitigation plan. The vessel boasts its own testing lab where guests receive PCR testing daily.
Capt. Richard Svardmark expressed his pleasure in returning to business. He added that it was great to be back in Antigua and the ship promised they would return within a 14-day period.
According to Dona Regis-Prosper, General Manager at Antigua Cruise Port, the arrival of Viking Orion affirmed their "regional position as a destination and port of choice for the most discerning passengers.”
She added they would see even more luxury cruise ships enter the port in November when they anticipated a sharp increase in the number of cruise calls and passengers that they would receive month-to-month. While 2,000+ passengers were expected to visit the port in October, they were expecting to welcome 25,000+ passengers in November, representing an approximately 10-fold increase from month to month. The trend would continue through the end of 2021 with 70,000+ passengers anticipated in December and "greater numbers forecasted into January 2022 and beyond.”
Mrs. Regis-Prosper noted that those passengers would be the first to experience Antigua ‘Free Flow’, the new governmental policy that permits cruisers and fully vaccinated crew to visit the islands freely instead of via small “bubble” tours. All passengers visiting Antigua & Barbuda have to be fully vaccinated to step ashore.
Antigua Cruise Port is embarking on upgrades to the Heritage Quay Shopping centre as well as the first phase of the development on the newly completely 5th berth. As a part of the efforts to improve the guest experience, 17 port community members were awarded the Certified Antigua Port Cruise Ambassador designation after the completion of a series of customer experience training sessions.
Viking Orion's current cruise is a 14-day "New West Indies Treasures" itinerary roundtrip from Port Everglades/Fort Lauderdale Florida. It started on October 20, 2021, and ends on November 3, 2021. Call ports include San Juan, Puerto Rico (Oct 23), Tortola Island, Road Town, BVI (Oct 24), Basseterre, St Kitts Island (Oct 25), Castries, St Lucia Island (Oct 26), Bridgetown, Barbados (Oct 27), Roseau, Dominica (Oct 28), St Johns, Antigua (Oct 29), Philipsburg, St Maarten Island, Dutch Antilles (Oct 30), St Thomas Island, Charlotte Amalie, USVI (Oct 31).