Today, January 11, 2021, Rhapsody of the Seas became the first cruise ship to call to the territory since it had placed a ban on cruise vessels on March 14, 2020, due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Grandeur of the Seas, also of the Royal Caribbean Group, will arrive in the territory tomorrow, January 12, 2021.
“The BVIPA has agreed on conditions to allow Royal Caribbean International’s Grandeur of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas berthing at the BVIPA’s cruise pier under strict health and safety rules starting on 11 January 2021 for an initial period of thirty (30) days for a warm lay-up,” the British Virgin Islands Ports Authority (BVIPA) announced today.
Acting BVIPA Managing Director, Oleanvine Pickering-Maynard noted in a press release that: “This is not a regular cruise call, the vessel does not have any guests on board, and it will be berthing exclusively to lay up, refuel, take on provisions and spare parts, and possibly other services.”
Acting BVIPA Managing Director, Oleanvine Pickering-Maynard said the vessel does not have any guests on board, and it will be berthing exclusively to lay up, refuel, take on provisions and spare parts, and possibly other services.
Maynard further commented that: “Crew members will not be allowed to disembark and there is no access to vessels from shore-based staff during stays in the BVI.”
She said the BVIPA’s cruise pier is a secure zone and persons are not permitted to pass the security gate area which will be manned.
Additionally, health and safety protocols were also shared with the ship’s agents and cruise line.
Patricia M. Romney, Director of Operations for Romasco Group, welcomed the move by Government to allow technical calls and warm lay-ups by cruise ships in the territory.
“As Agents for Royal Caribbean, we are indeed pleased to have two of its vessels calling in Tortola. We are grateful to the Virgin Islands Government for creating a path to assist our cruise partners during these critical times.”
In a detailed presentation to the BVIPA, Royal Caribbean Group explained their hybrid connection plans and other details pertaining to the warm lay-up procedures.
Crew members aboard cruise ships in the Virgin Islands for warm layups will not be allowed off the ships.
Hernan Zini, the Vice President of Worldwide Operations for Royal Caribbean Group said, “Royal Caribbean Group is grateful and fortunate to have the government and people of the British Virgin Islands welcome our vessels during the pandemic for lay-up so that critical services can be provided. As we face this challenging time together, our first priority is the health and safety of the communities we visit and our crew members. We all look forward to the day when we can resume sailing and return with our guests to visit the beautiful destination and warm people of the BVI.”
The economic benefits of extending technical calls or warm lay-ups include ships carrying out refueling, repairs and start-up activities in the territory before they set sail again. The BVIPA believes that maintaining a link with and continuing to service the cruising industry in the safe manner proposed with technical calls/warm lay-ups can be a vital part of the rebooting strategy.
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