The largest cruise vessel to ever call in Antigua and Barbuda so far, docked at the 5th Pier on Saturday, a historic undertaking signaling the first homeporting for the country since the Global Port lease agreement.
The Arvia from P&O cruises arrived in the morning, bringing with it 4536 passengers and 1704 crew.
Three Virgin Atlantic aircraft also arrive with passengers who were taken to Heritage Quay to board the ship.
Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez said at a ceremony to welcome the 185,581-ton vessel that the country expects even bigger vessels to the island.
“This is only the beginning of things to come…This visit is the first of four for this season. As we go along, we expect to get better. I think we are doing well we are very fortunate to have a partner like Global Port Holdings.,” he added.
Meanwhile, Fernandez said the country is set to welcome Oasis class ships by the end of this year.
“The dept of Arvia is that same as Oasis-class. However, the difference is that the Oasis class is almost 20 meters wider, which is why it is so crucial, that apart from widening, make sure the depth at the channel is down to what we need,” he said.
Fernandez recalled that the dredging work at the harbor has been impacted severely over the past several months by weather patterns, Covid, and funding.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his government has spent millions of dollars building out the country’s marine structure at the St Johns Habour and will continue to do so.
“The fact that we can accommodate one of the largest ships in the world is a major accomplishment. It is an exciting development, one in which we can welcome homeporting…The economic opportunities available will be enormous
He said this is part of the evidence that his administration is performing well for the country.
Antigua Cruise Ports General Manager Dona Regis Prosper said the occasion calls for a celebration of the partnership extended through P&O cruises…” she said.