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Newest U.S. flagged ship to call on Antigua

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ST JOHN'S, Antigua: Norwegian Jewel the newest ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet will begin calling at Antigua from November 6 this year.

This was one of the announcements emerging from discussions during Seatrade with top executive of Norwegian Cruise Lines’, Lania Rittenhouse, Vice President who informed that the ship will be delivered in August this year and will commence an innovative itinerary including Antigua as a key destination.

Minister of Tourism, Harold Lovell, recognised the importance of partnership with Norwegian Cruise Lines which is one of the most pioneering and dynamic lines in the industry with high spend visitors to the region. “This is the first regular itinerary of a major cruise line that has embraced Antigua rather than St. Maarten as its first port of call and only non-US port. This extends major opportunities in terms of shore excursions, shopping and general visitor spend on the island.”

Minister Lovell recognised the historical and pivotal significance of this development since both Disney and Royal Caribbean Line experimented with such an itinerary but as yet have not instituted regular preferred itineraries including Antigua out of Miami. “We expect that other lines will now follow since the size and speed of the newer ships make such an itinerary feasible and more critically, consumers are now requesting Antigua as a port of call in their Eastern Caribbean cruises.”

Minister Lovell continued that feedback from past cruise visitors had been very positive in terms of their overall experience when onshore, “We are delighted that Antigua is recognised as a good place to visit with a wide variety and quality of tours - to the extent that Antigua Seafaris operated by Nick Cheremeteff won accolades as best tour throughout Disney’s global Winter deployment in 2004/2005.”

Managing Director of Antigua Pier Group, Cameron Fraser, reiterated the thrust in marketing the destination “We have identified a number of ways of targeting the consumer and exposing them to what Antigua and Barbuda has to offer. In addition we will work with the cruise lines in their efforts to improve the variety of their itineraries, as well as strengthen cruise and land based partnerships that could challenge the way cruise lines conduct business in the Caribbean. We have been experiencing tremendous goodwill towards Antigua and Barbuda and with the commitment and involvement of the Ministry along with the support of the Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association, we are poised to turn this goodwill into substantial business for those who directly and indirectly benefit from cruise passengers”.

Cruise passengers in Antigua and Barbuda increased by 35% in 2004, reaching a total of 522,705.

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