Government of Antigua and Barbuda signs MOU with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Minister for Tourism, Investment and Economic Development, the Hon. Henry Charles Fernandez has signed a ten-year agreement with President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley, which will see increased cruise passengers visiting Antigua and Barbuda’s ports and the development of the facilities.

Minister Fernandez in making the announcement on Tuesday, said that simultaneously, Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited and Global Ports Holding Plc signed an agreement establishing a partnership between the two entities.

The agreement includes:

  1. A strategy to double passenger volumes, increasing to 500,000 annually within five years. The increase will commence annually upon completion of the fifth berth;
  1. Throughout the summer months, a strategy to schedule at least 30,000 (thirty thousand) passengers, in addition to the regular winter months schedule upon completion of the fifth berth;
  1. Executives will travel to Antigua, to explore several locations, to potentially establish, invest and develop experiences to enhance the destination offerings;
  1. Upon completion of the fifth berth, Royal Caribbean will schedule its Oasis class vessels to call regularly into Antigua. The Oasis class ships carry approximately 6,000 passengers and 2,100 crew members, making the Oasis Class Ships the largest in the world;
  1. An increase in Head Tax starting in October 2019; and
  1. Royal Caribbean will partner with the Antiguan government to develop job opportunities for Antiguans and Barbudans on their vessels;

In welcoming the signing of the agreement, President and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley outlined, “We are pleased to have concluded this agreement that will bring millions of guests to Antigua over the next ten years.  We look forward to having more of our guests enjoy the beauty of Antigua and Barbuda for many years to come and we are also looking forward to working with our partner, Global Ports Holdings in completing the Antiguan project.”

“I am delighted that having concluded meetings and productive dialogue over the past month with all the major cruise lines, Antigua and Barbuda stands at the forefront to becoming the number one destination in the Caribbean, upon completion of our cruise port facility,” stated Minister Charles Fernandez.

Minister Fernandez outlined that the cruise industry remains an integral part of the country’s tourism product and with the current positive outlook, it will provide much needed opportunities and jobs for the people of our twin island nation.

“Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne and my Cabinet colleagues must be commended for their constant support and assistance in getting us to this stage.  The teams from the Ministry of Tourism, the Antigua Port Authority and the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Ambassador Gilbert Boustany all worked tirelessly in the interest of getting the best deal for Antigua and Barbuda,” Fernandez said.

He also expressed commendations to the top executives of the cruise lines for their commitment to Antigua and Barbuda over the past years and look forward to a fruitful relationship in the coming years, while improving the tourism product to becoming the leading destination within the Caribbean.  He also had special words of gratitude for the executives of Global Ports Holdings for their valuable contribution and commitment to assisting Antigua and Barbuda in creating one of the finest cruise port facility in the Caribbean.  

Commenting on the successful negotiations, Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne who is on an official visit to Suriname said that he is pleased that the government has secured an agreement that is a win-win for all parties. 

“This agreement affirms the wisdom of adding an Oasis class pier to our facilities in St. John’s.  The cruise industry is vital for all Antiguans and Barbuda who will continue to offer the warmest welcome to our visitors.  The future of Antigua and Barbuda and the cruise industry is very bright indeed,” PM Browne stated.

The Government has invested over US$110 million dollars in the cruise facilities in St. John’s, and the further investment by Global Port Holdings Limited and Royal Caribbean Cruise Limited will bring the total investment to approximated EC $500 million dollars (US $200 million).