Antigua and Barbuda is getting ready to welcome its first Oasis-class ship, the Royal Caribbean ‘Symphony of the Seas’ in January.
Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez expressed confidence that the experts from the cruise line will be satisfied with the work done to ensure the safe docking of the ship.
A team from Royal Caribbean, including the boat captain and other members, is expected to arrive in November to test the sea depths and other conditions at the country’s fifth berth.
Minister Fernandez spoke to Observer media and said that the arrival of Oasis ships could be a “game-changer” provided that workers can complete the dredging work by the end of October.
He added that the government has been working on welcoming Oasis-class cruise ships to Antigua since 2019, after handing over management of the port to Global Ports Holdings. The objective is to boost tourism numbers and revenue.
Oasis-class ships are some of the largest cruise vessels in the world, and their arrival could mean more visits to Antigua and Barbuda as ships continue to get bigger.
Minister Fernandez added that Royal Caribbean will evaluate the work done to ensure that everything is up to their requirements.
He also mentioned some setbacks faced along the way, including the Covid pandemic and difficulties in dredging hard rock at the seabed of the harbor.
However, he expressed optimism that the dredging work will be completed soon.
He also revealed that the country is preparing for over 55,000 homeporting passengers to come to the island between November and April.
The Excel-class cruise ship, Arvia, was the first to homeport here in 2023 and will be joined in the upcoming season by the Star Clipper of Royal Clipper Cruises and the Emerald Sakara.