St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): St Kitts and Nevis Tourism Officials have agreed to discontinue cruise tourism from Florida based cruise lines in response to changing COVID-19 testing guidelines in the United States.
Minister of Tourism Hon. Lindsay Grant announced the suspension on Friday morning after a change in the cruise guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States.
The issues leading the decision by the Federation’s officials are regarding the frequency of RT-PCR testing, admission of vaccinated and non vaccinated individuals and the surge of the DELTA variant in the United States.
“Our testing requirements differ from the cruise lines as per the Florida ruling. We require the RT-PCR test 72 hours from embarkation ports and have since October 31 last year. At this very time, no testing for vaccinated passengers from Florida is required as per the current CDC guidelines. The Delta variant, as it is right now, is the main reason for the increase in the COVID-19 cases in theUnited States, Florida in particular. Just last week, over 23,000 persons tested positive… no testing of fully vaccinated individuals obviously increases our risk,” said Minister Grant.
At the press conference held this morning, Minister Grant shared more discouraging news that the previously scheduled ten cruise ships docking in St. Kitts will no longer do so as the battle between public health and national economics continues.
“With the Ministry of Health, we have carefully assessed the risk to the destination, and we are unable to receive calls from Florida until we can identify vaccination and testing protocols that allow us to achieve our goal of balancing the economics and balancing public health. For the month of August, therefore, the call of the Allure and Symphony of the Seas have been cancelled. We will provide an update for the Celebrity Summit and the Equinox. However, the Celebrity summit will not call on August 12.”
Despite the recent changes, there is still good news to report. The Seabourn Odyssey, which calls Barbados its homeport, will still come to the Federation weekly and berth at the Carambola Beach Club.
Other cruise ships are homeporting in Barbados; however, St. Kitts is not on the itinerary.
“The ships [that] are scheduled to homeport out of Barbados; they will be doing a southern itinerary. They will not be coming up north, so they will be feeding, for example, St. Vincent, Tobago, Grenada, Barbados; they will probably be going as far as St. Lucia. So you may be seeing that [some Royal Caribbean vessels are homeporting] out of Barbados and also Aruba and Curacao, but they will not be coming this far north. They were specifically set there to homeport to feed the southern itinerary which includes those chain of islands,” explained CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, Raquel Brown.