After a pause of more than a year, regular cruise ship activity will resume at The West Indian Company Dock on Wednesday, Sept. 8 with the arrival of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Gem.
“Since the imposition of the CDC’s March 2020 No Sail order, our team has been working diligently behind the scenes with our cruise partners to provide residents and the business community with the familiar and now reassuring sight of ships at our dock,” said Anthony A. Ottley, WICO CEO, in a press release from the government-owned entity. “It is an understatement to say that we are elated to now welcome our first ship after more than 18 months of inactivity.”
Ships returned to the Port Authority’s dock at Crown Bay in July. Joseph Boschulte, who is both Tourism commissioner and chairman of the WICO Board of Directors, said that ships returning to WICO represent a positive step for the USVI economy.
“Now that there is a path forward for the cruise industry to resume sailing safely, it is significant that we will once again have cruise ships at the territory’s three major cruise ports, and it is especially gratifying to see ships berthed at our port. Our overnight guest arrivals have been impressive, but we certainly cannot overlook cruise tourism’s contributions to our economy, even with ships arriving below capacity,” said Boschulte.
All of the Norwegian Gem’s passengers and crew are reportedly fully vaccinated, exceeding the territory’s 85 percent vaccination requirement. Signs along the WICO dock will remind visitors to comply with local health and safety COVID-19 protocols, according to WICO’s release.
The release indicates WICO Security and Marine Division personnel also will observe all protocols when interacting with passengers and crew.
Two new ships, MSC’s Seashore (Nov. 14) and Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras (Dec. 23) are expected to be among the 211 cruise calls scheduled for the upcoming 2022 ship season.