Vice-President, Destination Development at Royal Caribbean Group, Josh Carroll presents Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, with a plaque during yesterday’s welcome ceremony. (B. Hinds/BGIS)

As the tourism industry continues to reopen worldwide, Barbados’ cruise sector welcomed Celebrity Millennium to it shores yesterday. 

The cruise ship which is part of the Celebrity Cruise Line, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL), is the first in the Western hemisphere to sail in 15 months and notably, the first cruise to have 95 per cent of its passengers and the entire crew fully vaccinated.

The cruise liner, set sail from Philipsburg, St. Maarten on a seven-night itinerary, with Barbados as its first port of call. All adult passengers on the ship were required to show proof of vaccination before boarding as well as present negative PCR tests to enter St. Maarten and Barbados.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins in welcoming the vessel to Barbados at the Bridgetown Port, noted that Celebrity Millennium has made history by being the largest COVID-19-vaccinated cruise in the world to date, carrying some 500 vaccinated passengers.

She stressed “As we reopen our borders and look to restart tourism on island, the health and safety of Barbadians and visitors remain paramount to what we do and how we do things. We have to prepare to welcome visitors again, not just for our institutions, not just for the Bridgetown Port, but for the many people whose livelihoods have depended on our ability to do that.”

Senator Cummins added that the process involved in having the cruise industry restarted was a long and arduous one, involving arrangements that took months of careful planning and interventions at all levels.

“Planning at the level of our local health officials, the Ministry of Tourism, the America’s Cruise Task Force (ACTF)… where we considered both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sail orders and the EU [European Union] Healthy Sail Guidelines; and even the Social Partnership of Barbados which created a sub-committee dedicated to cruise.  We are, therefore, confident that the implementation of these new protocols will give fully vaccinated travellers cruising to Barbados the opportunity to safely enjoy the destination once more,” Senator Cummins said.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins and Minister of Maritime Affairs, Kirk Humphrey (right), present a plaque to Captain Theodoros Zakkas of Celebrity Millennium. (B. Hinds/BGIS)

The Tourism Minister highlighted three key areas she believed should be addressed in order to rebuild a strong and resilient cruise industry. Those areas include: continued dialogue with the ACTF, where arrangements can be reviewed and a new mandate agreed upon by all industry players; an agreed set of protocols on greening and eco-tourism practices geared towards building climate resiliency for Barbados; and inclusivity, where all players in the industry can benefit economically, especially women who in most cases are the heads of their households.   

Vice-President, Destination Development at Royal Caribbean Group (RCCL), Josh Carroll, at the welcoming and plaque ceremony expressed: “We are so excited to return to Barbados for the first time in over a year. Every painstaking, carefully measured step was taken to ensure that we protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and the residents of this treasured destination.

“And we are thankful to the Barbados Government for its leadership and support to make this important milestone a reality. This exciting new itinerary offers vacationers so many fresh ways to experience the southern Caribbean and showcase all the splendours of Barbados’ history, culture and cuisine.”

Mr. Carroll also thanked Barbados for its humanitarian and hospitality efforts offered to the RCCL last year when cruise ships were stranded as a result of the pandemic and Barbados assisted in helping crew members return to their homes.

The Celebrity Millennium will also visit Aruba and Curacao as part of its itinerary.

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