Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, presents Rotterdam Captain Bas van Dreumel with a plaque to commemorate the cruise ship’s inaugural visit to Barbados, today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Barbados today saw the inaugural porting of Holland America Line cruise ship Rotterdam at the Bridgetown Port.

On hand to welcome the vessel with its 932 crew and 1,926 passengers were Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey and officials of the Bridgetown Port Inc.

During the welcome ceremony, which included the exchange of plaques and commemoratives, Minister Humphrey indicated that it had been a difficult two years for the cruise sector in Barbados with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that the ministry along with the Ministries of Tourism and Health had worked and would continue to do so on protocols for the industry that would create a safe environment for cruise passengers, while helping to boost the economy.

Minister Humphrey stated “We’re very pleased to have the opportunity to partner with you on this first voyage of the Rotterdam to Barbados and certainly it won’t be the last…, and in 2022 we will be having a sister ship the Nieuw Statendam joining us here in Barbados, as we continue to build out what we think is going to be an exciting and a meaningful partnership,” Minister Humphrey stated.

Reporting on the 2021 winter tourism season in relation to cruising, the Minister said that Barbados expected to have 336 vessels call, with just over 372,000 passengers visiting the island.

The Maritime Minister commended Captain Bas van Dreumel for the ship’s environmental practices: “I know that on-board this vessel you’ve taken every precaution to make sure that in relation to garbage and waste you’ve treated the organic waste with some degree of respect; the ocean space with some degree of respect; you’ve treated to your sewage as well in a way that makes it favourable if discharged into the ocean, that also finds favour with me, and then of course on-board this ship you have an environment officer who is a senior officer.”

He told those in attendance that the ministry was working on “building the legislation out in Barbados” as it related to the environment, and over the next few years the legislative agenda set would put Barbados in keeping with the International Maritime Organization protocols and conventions.

To this end, Barbados, he said intended to build partnerships to be able to effectively revitalise the island’s marine space.

Minister Humphrey encouraged Captain Dreumel to urge passengers, for their safety and for the safety of locals, to follow the protocols in place while on the island which include mask wearing, social distancing and hand sanitising.

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