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Tuesday 3rd May 2022

 Antigua & Barbuda makes its presence felt at a successful Seatrade Cruise Global 2022

Seatrade Cruise Global 2022, held this year under the theme “Resilience”, came to a close on Thursday April 28, after participation from 500 exhibitors, 8,000 executives, cruise industry leaders, suppliers, and destinations from over 100 countries. Antigua and Barbuda participated in the cruise industry’s leading business-to-business conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Florida, with this year’s energy-filled event considered one of the most productive and successful editions in recent years.

The Antigua & Barbuda delegation led by Minister of Tourism and Investment, The Hon. Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez and CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Colin C. James, also included Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism Walter Christopher, Sr. Business Development Manager Donyelle Bird-Browne, Port Manager Darwin Telemaque, with support from Eric Lindsay also of the Tourism Authority, Maria Britto-Bettini of Blue Seas Ltd, Mark Fleming of Calvin Air Helicopters, Patrick Ryan of Bryson’s Shipping Ltd, and Neil Keeling of The Rendezvous Company Antigua Ltd. Premier of Montserrat, The Hon. Easton Taylor-Farrell joined with his delegation to increase awareness, secure opportunities, and promote destination Montserrat.

Critical issues facing the regional cruise sector like robust health and safety protocols, stewardship, sustainability, environmental and economic impact, port and land side development, unique and memorable shore excursions, the availability of Liquid Nitrogen Gas (LNG), dedicated cruise charter passenger terminals, and homeporting capabilities were addressed; including a positive outlook for the future of the Caribbean market as newer and bigger ships are planned for debut in 2023 and 2024.

The first day of the event saw workshops on the theme of ‘resiliency’, meetings with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, and the FCCA Operations Committee headed by President Michelle Paige. The day was elegantly capped with ‘An Evening of Rare Caribbean Rum’, inclusive of an immersive rum tasting master class featuring the Antigua Distillery’s very rare, limited edition 1981 English Harbour Rum. The event bringing together forty enthusiastic stakeholder and industry partners, and guests was hosted by The Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority and Caribbean Journal Media at the members only Empire Social Lounge in Brickell.  

During the remainder of the week, successful meetings were held with major cruise line executives and destination development teams from TUI, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, and Carnival, who shared information on additional calls to the destination for the 2022 and 2023 winter seasons.  

MSC Cruises has shown significant interest in the possibility of partial turnarounds and homeporting of their new ship Seascape during the 2023 season. Information was also shared on their smaller, luxury vessel Explora, with a view to including Barbuda on its itinerary.  

General Manager of the Antigua Cruise Port, Dona Regis-Prosper spoke on a panel for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion before the FCCA Private Partnership networking dinner where Team Antigua hosted a table with senior executives from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL).  

The team also met with Marc Melville of Chukka Caribbean Adventures Ltd pertaining to an exciting national park heritage and entertainment complex.  In another meeting with Carnival Cruise Line, Ugo Savino, Carnival’s Director of Deployment & Itinerary Planning recognized the investment and commitment of Antigua & Barbuda toward elevating the sector and ensured continued support.

Meetings and discussions on day four with, Emilio Freeman, VP of Itineraries and Destinations with SeaDream Yacht Club on personalized, luxury experiences, and Carol Johnson with the online travel company TripAdvisor, were also very successful.

Two exciting announcements came during Seatrade. Chairman of Global Ports Holdings Ltd, Mehmet Kutman and General Manager Dona Regis-Prosper of Antigua Cruise Port, announced the advent of The Antigua Beach Club, a new and exciting addition to current entertainment options.  The Royal Caribbean Group (RCCL) represented by Russell Benford, VP of Government Relations for the Americas, and Wendy McDonald, Regional VP of Government Relations, Caribbean also announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Minister Fernandez for the hiring of thousands of Antiguans and Barbudans by RCCL.  

Minister Fernandez and the team from Antigua and Barbuda thanked the cruise line executives in-person and via Zoom online meetings, for their continued support and confidence in the destination. Industry lines welcomed the positive news on the readiness of the port to receive the largest cruise ships in time for the start of the winter season and the availability of LNG fuel by Antigua and Barbuda from April 2023. The destination will be one of the first ports in the region to offer this service.

The Minister reiterated the Government’s commitment to working with the country’s cruise stakeholders to grow the business, while establishing the objective of Antigua & Barbuda to become the top regional cruise port, and cruise hub of the Caribbean through its professional and sustainable partnerships.

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