After 610 days, the AIDAperla cruise vessel has returned to the Bridgetown Port, where the ship will be home porting for the 2021/2022 winter season.
On Wednesday evening, an extravaganza was held to welcome Captain Boris Becker, the ship’s 910 crew members, and 1, 675 passengers.
The welcome included an exchange of commemorative gifts, music played by the Royal Barbados Police Force Band; stilt walkers; dancers and a thank you video, which included some tourism stakeholders, such as Platinum Port Agency Inc. and taxi operators, as well as Medical Officer of Health for Ports of Entry, Dr. Manohar Singh.
During the welcome ceremony, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, shared the commitment that Government had given to the cruise sector.
“In the event of future incarnations that you need to find safe harbour and you need to find assistance with whatever is happening to you on board, in particular, as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbados remains home for you.”
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, who was also present, noted that it was good to see not only the AIDAperla but the Celebrity Millennium in port at the same.
“I see these ships and I see Barbadians working. I see the opportunity for people to earn a dollar, and I’m grateful that we would allow the taxis in the Bridgetown Port to earn a dollar.”
Minister Humphrey also stated that the 2021/2022 winter cruise season was looking “very positive”, and highlighted the many vessels set to berth at the Bridgetown Port, including Royal Caribbean Cruise Line vessel, Grandeur of the Seas, which will be homeporting in Barbados from December 5, 2021.
The Minister for Maritime Affairs congratulated the AIDA brand for its goal to have the first zero emission cruise vessel by 2030, noting: “The Port intends to be the world’s leading green maritime hub in the world by 2030, and therefore, we intend to be able to offer clean energy. We intend to implement a just-in-time system where as soon as you come you are attended to, so that you don’t spend a lot of time idling in the Bridgetown Port to reduce any emissions.
“I think that’s important as the world evolves, and that any of us, who is in this business, doing anything related to the ocean must now recognise that it is our responsibility to take care of the ocean.”
Captain Becker expressed thanks to the Government and people of Barbados for providing a safe harbour one year and eight months ago.
“Barbados was open for us and with the taxi drivers bringing us to the airport, to the hospitals, wherever we needed to go, to the port workers helping us with provisioning; all these people helped us and stood by us and that is really something very special for us and that is why I want to say thank you again.
“Thank you to all of you for really helping us in those difficult days and standing by us as partners.… I promised I would be back or we would be back bringing back passengers and also business to the port,” Captain Becker said.
He pointed out that all of the ship’s passengers were vaccinated and that testing takes place on board, and the cruise line would continue to do what is necessary to protect its business.
“We also want to protect the places we are going to [and] the communities we are going to and of course all the Barbadians,” he added. Based in Rostock, Germany, AIDA Cruises cater primarily to the German market.