Antigua and Barbuda stands poised to become one of the premier home porting destinations in the Southern Caribbean.
This, as preparations are said to be on an all-time high for the inaugural call and official welcoming festivities for Carnival Arvia on Saturday.
Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez, who less than a week ago was reappointed as Minister of Tourism, has gone full steam ahead to ensure the success of the activities that will see the country execute its first official home porting exercise.
On Monday, Fernandez toured the 5th berth facility where the vessel will be docked and also where the exchange of passengers will take place.
Some 800 passengers will board Carnival Arvia in Antigua direct from special air charters which will land at the VC Bird International to be transferred to the 5th Berth facility at Heritage Quay.
The entire exercise is logistics driven between air and seaport personnel as well as transportation service providers.
“We look forward to this exercise with great anticipation as it forms part of the plan to expand our cruise tourism platform. We anticipate that this activity will reap significant rewards for several of our stakeholders including our Taxi Operators,” Fernandez said.
The minister says he is quite pleased with the added infrastructure at the 5th berth that is currently being outfitted with security, baggage, immigration, and customs resources to ensure that the transition process is seamless.
Dona Regis-Prosper of Antigua Cruise Ports said the operation is an historic one for two main reasons, firstly the ARVIA is the largest vessel to dock in Antigua with a capacity of over 5200 passengers and 1600 crew and secondly this is the first of three home porting operations scheduled for between now and March, so it serves as the foundation which is extremely important,” remarks
Homeporting is when a ship uses a port/marine terminal as its home, regardless of its port of registry.
This allows passengers to begin/terminate a cruise in the home port and positively impacts ground transportation and tours. Passengers may also fly to the island to board vessels.