Antigua Port Authority, PO Box 1052, St John’s, Antigua
83 °F / 29 °C
St Johns is a port town located in West Indies (Leeward Islands, Caribbean Sea) as well as the capital city of Antigua and Barbuda. Located on Antigua Island's northwestern coast, the town has land area approx 10 km2 (4 ml2) and population around 22,000. St John's is also country's commercial center and principal/main seaport.
St Johns cruise port has a deepwater harbour and capacity to handle world's largest passenger liners. Major cruise companies (including RCI-Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney, Celebrity, Princess and NCL-Norwegian) visit St John's as port of call in their regularly scheduled roundtrip itineraries operated by US-homeported ships. Cruise ships dock in St John's Harbour and passengers are handled at the terminals Redcliffe Quay and Heritage Quay.
Antigua Rum Distillery (at the Citadel) has annual bottling capacity 180,000+ gallons. Other best-known tourist attractions include city's skyline (dominated by St Johns Cathedral), Botanical Garden, St John's Light (harbour's lighthouse), Fort James (at harbor's entrance), Fort Charles, Fort George, Fort Berkeley, Fort Barrington, Fort Shirley, Government House (19th-century residence building), large shopping malls and boutiques (selling top-fashion clothing and designer jewelry), museums, natural beauty, premium resorts. World-class celebrities (including Oprah Winfrey, Eric Clapton, Giorgio Armani) own private residences on the island. Besides tourism, another major industry is investment banking - some of world's largest financial institutions have offices here.
In February 2019, GPH (Global Ports Holding / 2004-founded, UK-based company, world's largest cruise port operator) signed a 30-year exclusive concession deal with Antigua and Barbuda for cruise port management and retail shopping operations. A similar deal GPH signed with Cuba (for Port Havana) in 2018. Part of the deal was that GPH will invest in improving port's current retail shops and construct new retail and food-beverage facilities. GPH also handles cruise vessels anchoring close to Falmouth Harbour.
In mid-March 2019, Carnival Cruise Line updated its website eliminating all scheduled cruises to Antigua (St Johns) from November 2019 onwards. However, in April, Antigua and Barbuda's Government managed to convince Carnival to reverse its decision to cancel all scheduled port calls to Antigua and Barbuda planned for 4 liners (Breeze, Legend, Pride, Magic). Both parties signed a non-disclosure agreement preventing them from divulging information to the public. Carnival's decision would have resulted in heavy losses to island's economy (millions of dollars) and would have affected not only the cruise port but also local tour operators, vendors and other tourism-related businesses.
In late-May 2019, Michael Bayley (RCI's CEO) and Charles Fernandez (Antigua and Barbuda's Minister of Tourism, Investments and Economic Development) signed a 10-year agreement, according to which Royal Caribbean will double the number of cruise tourists visiting Port St Johns (up to 0,5 million annually within 5 years). RCI will also develop port's cruise facilities via partnership between RCI's parent company RCCL (Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd) and Global Ports Holding Plc (serving the markets in Asia-Pacific, Caribbean and Europe-Mediterranean).
- RCCL will build a new (5th) cruise berth. Also planned are investments into developing new shore-tour experiences (at Fort James) to enhance Antigua's attractivity as a travel destination. The passenger traffic will be increased by scheduling regular visits by Oasis-class liners (world's largest, each with max capacity 6300 passengers plus 2150 crew).
- Fort James (at St Johns Harbour's entrance) was built in the 18th-century (1706-1773) by the British to guard the harbor from a possible French invasion. The fort is on a headland allowing great views of the harbor and the town (to the northwest). Fort's name honors James II and VII (1633-1701), King of England between 1695-88. Following the completion, the fort had 36 guns and barracks for 75 soldiers.
St Johns cruise terminal
Currently, Port Saint Johns Antigua has max capacity of 4 large-sized ships at a time. Most cruise liners are berthed at Heritage Quay pier - the newest and largest of the two quays. When the port has scheduled more than 4 vessels at a time, some of the ships are berthed at Deep Water Harbour Terminal. This facility is located approx 1,5 km (1 ml) from downtown. Sometimes, smaller-sized ships anchor at English Harbour (on island's southern coast).
In 2018 was announced a port expansion project that includes dredging the main shipping channel, building a new seawall (harbor defense structure), new cruise berth (5th), land reclamation and renovation of the entire Heritage Quay area.
In mid-July 2019, RCCL-Royal Caribbean (corporation) and Antigua and Barbuda's Government signed a MoU for building a new entertainment complex at Fort James area. The deal allowed Royal Caribbean to start construction works on the site.
Antigua and Barbuda's Government has long planned "to develop Fort James facility and its precincts into a daytime leisure activity to support the cruise tourism business". Following project's completion, a water taxi service will be introduced to transport cruise tourists from Port St John’s to Fort James' facilities.
Heritage Quay Terminal
The 2-story cruise terminal building has numerous duty-free shops selling electronics, jewelery, liquors, tobaccos / cigars, designer clothing and watches, local music, fine china and crystal, cosmetics, perfumes, sport equipment, swimwear. Shopping is easy as there are no restrictions once you proof your travel status.
At Heritage Quay Terminal there are also specialty restaurants and bars. Heritage Quay's last renovation was in December 2006.
Redliffe Quay Terminal
The second St Johns port's cruise ship terminal is located at one of town's oldest parts, dating back from the 17th century. The docking area used to be among the busiest Caribbean trading centers in the 18th century. Redliffe Quay Terminal has boutiques, bars, cafes, restaurants.
St Johns tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Beaches: Antigua is famous with the fact that there are 365 beaches – a different one for each day of the year.
- St John’ Cathedral: major landmark. It dates from 1683 when it was just a wooden structure. It was rebuilt several times since than. Now it is stunning building with impressive Baroque towers.
- Museum of Antigua and Barbuda: explore the islands’ history. Located at Long Street.
- Nelson’s Dockyard National Park: tour the area. You can also visit the Dockyard Museum and the Admiral’s House Museum. Another landmark of the park is the Clarence House.
- Fig Tree Drive: if you have more time, you should definitely try it. The drive follows the southern coast of Antigua and you can enjoy the amazing local live going through fishing villages, farmlands or beautiful rainforest. ”Fig” is the local name for banana tree.
Port St Johns cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from St Johns, Antigua. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
|8 February, 2019|
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