The Antigua Cruise Port is perfecting its home-porting capabilities with the successful turnaround of several hundred cruise guests from two ships on November 18, 2023.

The mega-ship Arvia, operated by P&O Cruises, and Emerald Cruises’ Emerald Sakara, held turnaround operations on the same day.

It was a busy day at Antigua Cruise Port on November 18, 2023, when the facility simultaneously handled debarkations and embarkations for two ships home-porting at the Leeward Islands destination.

P&O Cruises’ Arvia, carrying close to her full capacity of 5,200 guests, debarked about 700 cruisers and embarked roughly the same number. The ship sails 14-day itineraries from Bridgetown, Barbados, but enables guests to join or leave the ship in Antigua midway through the full voyage, providing a 7-day option.

At the same time, the 100-guest luxury yacht Emerald Sakara, which homeports at Antigua, completed a turnaround with about 80 cruisers embarking the ship. The vessel operates Eastern and Southern Caribbean itineraries.

Read Also: 10 Best Eastern Caribbean Cruise Ports You Should Visit

On the same day, two additional ships docked at the port’s Heritage Quay, the 1,200-guest Artania, a ship chartered by a German travel operator, and the 1,830-guest Marella Discovery, operated by Marella Cruises. (Marella Discovery is the former Splendour of the Seas, built in 1995 for Royal Caribbean.)

Cruise Ships Docked in Antigua (Photo Courtesy: Antigua Cruise Port)

 “Today’s success indicates our capacity to manage home-porting. We had four vessels in port, and operations were smooth, so guests had a pleasant experience at our port,” said Cynthia Jacobs-Browne, Antigua Cruise Port Officer-in-Charge.

Arvia has been home-ported in Antigua since January 2023. During the upcoming winter season, she will make nine turnaround calls. Emerald Sakara will make 13 turnarounds.

Antigua is a frequent call on Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries, as well as transatlantic routes. Located İn St. John’s harbor, Antigua Cruise Port is the gateway to the city.

Other ships slated to call through 2023 include Seabourn’s Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Ovation; Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Equinox; Silversea Cruises’ Silver Shadow and Silver Nova; Holland America Line’s Eurodam; and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sun.

Top sightseeing attractions for cruise guests visiting Antigua include Betty’s Hope, a restored sugar plantation; Devil’s Bridge, a limestone rock formation; and Nelson’s Dockyard, a park with hiking trails, retail shops, and historic forts. Adventure activities on the island include zip lining, sailing, and hiking.

Like other Caribbean ports, Antigua’s most lucrative season is winter. Port records show that roughly 500,000 cruise guests arrived in Antigua during winter 2022-23, with more than 300,000 of the arrivals visiting between January and March.

Antigua is able to homeport large vessels thanks to the construction of a new pier in November 2022. It was part of an $80 million agreement signed in 2019 between Global Ports Holding and the government of Antigua and Barbuda to redevelop the cruise complex in St. John, the island’s capital city.

Cruise Ships Docked in Antigua (Photo Credit: Gerwin Schadl)

The pier can accommodate large vessels, including the Oasis-class cruise ships from Royal Caribbean. Plans for a new pier were originally announced in 2019, before the pandemic temporarily slowed construction.

Antigua was also pegged for development by Royal Caribbean, which, in early 2020, announced an agreement with the governments of Antigua and Barbuda to create the Royal Beach Club. Plans were put on hold when the pandemic hit, and there are still plans for this to go ahead.

Royal Caribbean, however, has moved forward with its Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island, Bahamas, which is slated to open in 2025.

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