by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Tour operators are encouraged by the return of cruise tourism this week after The MV Seabourn Odyssey docked in St. Kitts yesterday (July 22).
Carla Astaphan, craftswoman, the owner of the Potters House and tour guide for the St. Kitts Scenic Railway, one of the guided tours in this phased restart, spoke with WINN in an invited comment on her experience with the first cruise visitors in 15 months.
“It was nice… I think they had a really good tour. [I felt] very energised giving the tour, and we had some people from the COVID-19 taskforce… we had compliance officers on board, and we complied with everything, we had our sanitisers all over the place, and the attendants were cleaning as we [went]… I think that at the end of the tour, they were quite happy… they were picked up at La Vallee, and they were back to the ship.”
With social distancing and masking protocols in place, WINN asked how these protocols affected the railway tour, which takes approximately two hours.
“I did the tour as I normally would. At first, I was double-masked, but it was a bit difficult talking through the mask, and because I was pretty far from them [the guests], it wasn’t a crowded tour… they were more than 10 feet away, I felt comfortable doing that and the compliance officer agreed… so I kept my distance and did the tour, but it was just as engaging just as I would normally do. I allowed them to ask questions, and they asked about COVID and how we were… My tour is always very interactive. I share as much history about our island as possible.”
The tour facilitated 20 people in this first run; however, Ms. Astaphan indicated that the St. Kitts Scenic Railway is fully equipped to handle about 100 people between the five carts and still adhere to the social distancing protocols.
Craft vendors are not included in the bubble tours of this initial phase of this restart. Still, Astaphan, a craft vendor herself, said she is looking forward to hearing from the tourism authority on when they will be included.
“I’m in more than one [tourism] industry, and I’m looking forward to the day that we can have the crafters out and all the other services that depend on the tourism industry to be able to get dividends from that.”
The Celebrity Summit, our second cruise ship in this continuing restart to cruise tourism, is expected on Thursday, July 29, and will dock at Port Zante.
The ship is expected to bring about 500 passengers. Only fully vaccinated taxi operators will be selected by rotation to cart the guests to the destination sites and then directly back to the ships from 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The destination sites are the Fairview Greathouse and Botanical Garden, the Caribelle Batik factory and the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park.