According to Premier Andrew Fahie, the highly anticipated cruise liner, the Celebrity Millennium, reportedly experienced a COVID-19 scare en route to the territory; forcing it to make the cancellation.
Royal Caribbean is the parent company of Celebrity Cruises.
“The first cruise ship was due to call on the BVI this week. However, due to increased COVID-19 cases at a ‘destination stop’ prior to ours, the cruise liner took the decision to cancel the rest of the cruise,“ Premier Fahie said.
A CNN news report said two guests aboard the cruise tested positive for the virus late last week. The persons were reportedly asymptomatic and the vessel had about 500 passengers at the time.
Meanwhile, the Premier, who is also the Minister of Tourism, assured that the BVI was “still on target to receive cruise ships in the very near future.”
Once again, he encouraged stakeholders within the industry to prepare themselves and get their businesses ready to welcome the return of the cruise ships.
Premier Fahie said more information on the cruise sector would be made available to the public in short order.
The Celebrity Edge is the next cruise liner expected to grace the BVI’s ports and is slated to dock on July 6. This is according to the cruise schedule on the BVI Ports Authority’s official website.
The cruise call is expected to bring more than 3,000 guests to the BVI’s shores, and will likely offer a much-needed injection to the territory’s badly hit economy.
This is expected to be followed two days later by the Norwegian Breakaway which will be bringing over 4,000 guests to the BVI.
The BVI has experienced some challenges in recent months in its efforts to get the tourism industry — one of its two main economic pillars — back in full gear after being inactive for more than a year.
The territory’s seaports were first expected to reopen in December last year but this was subsequently pushed back until January, then March before it was again rescheduled for mid-April.
Yesterday (June 15), Premier Fahie also announced that three additional seaports are now expected to receive international travellers once they are fully vaccinated.
These are the Soper’s Hole Dock at West End; Dog Hole Dock at Jost Van Dyke, and the St Thomas Bay Dock at Virgin Gorda.
Throughout all of its setbacks, the BVI has admirably managed its share of COVID-19 cases, keeping community spread to a bare minimum and experiencing only one COVID-related death since the start of the health pandemic.