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Royal Caribbean signs deal to improve ports in US Virgin Islands

29 Sep 2021

Royal Caribbean Group announced it has reached a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The deal will further enhance Crown Bay in St. Thomas, as well as a significant redevelopment of Frederiksted, St Croix in the future.

The agreement is the first step in a longer process of expanding the cruise line's visits to the islands, as well as looking at ways to expand the port facilities and guest experience at both islands.

Royal Caribbean Group will expand its presence in St Thomas and St Croix. The new deal will have specific targets for bringing guests to each island.

The MOU is a recommitment from Royal Caribbean Group to extend its existing 10-year, pier-use agreement for preferential berthing at VIPA’s cruise facilities in Crown Bay, St. Thomas and Frederiksted, St. Croix.

In addition to guaranteed minimum revenues to the Virgin Islands and increased cruise visits to both St. Thomas and St. Croix, Royal Caribbean Group has expressed an interest in developing enhancements to the cruise facility in Crown Bay and making landside improvements in the Crown Bay District and St. Croix to enhance the island’s tourism products.

In the short term, Royal Caribbean will bring more passengers to St. Thomas and St. Croix, but down the line, enhancing the piers is a big part of the deal.

A third pier will be added to Crown Bay in St. Thomas, which will mean there will be three berths there. Two of these berths will be capable of handling an Icon Class cruise ship.

In addition, Royal Caribbean will look to expand Frederiksted, St. Croix. This will include work on dredging the pier to accommodate larger ships.  Currently, the pier in St. Croix can only handle ships as large as a Voyager Class ship.

Jayne Halcomb, Royal Caribbean Group Director of the Caribbean/Americas, said they will focus on creating more opportunities for guests to explore.

Ms. Halcomb said community integration will be a big part of the project to ensure local businesses can prosper and grow due to new traffic. All of this work will have an eye on sustainable development.

U.S. Virgin Islands requires all cruise ship passengers 12 and older to be fully vaccinated

02 Aug 2021

If your Royal Caribbean cruise visits the U.S. Virgin Islands, you will need to be fully vaccinated in order to go on the sailing.

The government of the U.S. Virgin Islands has informed Royal Caribbean of a new policy that requires all cruise passengers ages 12 and older to be fully vaccinated in order for the ship to be allowed entry into the port.

This latest requirement applies to all cruise ships scheduled to enter U.S. Virgin Island ports. 

In a statement by the cruise line, Royal Caribbean will require all guests ages 12 and older to provide proof of vaccination in order to sail on itineraries visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Guests unable to show proof of vaccination will not be allowed to sail.

Guests under the age of 12, who are currently not eligible for the vaccine, will be able to sail with a negative test result at boarding and must follow certain protocols.

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson commented on the new Virgin Islands policy, "Royal Caribbean’s top priority is maintaining everyone’s well-being while complying with federal, state
and local laws as we always have. We will continue to evaluate and update its health and safety measures as circumstances evolve."

The Allure of the Seas sailing on August 8th has a scheduled stop in St. Thomas, which will be required to adhere to this new policy.

Guests sailing on Allure of the Seas who may be impacted by the change, are asked to contact the cruise line for a full refund or to move their reservation to a later voyage,or a different itinerary.

In addition, St. Kitts recently announced a new policy which only allows 700 guests to visit their island per ship. The Allure of the Seas sailing on August 8th will now visit Philipsburg, St. Maarten instead. 

It is not clear why the U.S. Virgin Islands made this policy change, but the delta variant causing a surge in new cases is a likely candidate.

Florida, where many cruise ships are sailing from, broke a record for coronavirus hospitalizations on Sunday, which was a day after Florida recorded the most Covid-19 cases in a single since the pandemic began in early 2020. Less than half of Floridians are fully vaccinated

Royal Caribbean signs 10-year deal with US Virgin Islands

22 Dec 2015

Royal Caribbean signed a 10-year deal with the U.S. Virgin Islands to help boost tourism and generate revenue.

According to the U.S. Virgin Islands Port Authority, Royal Caribbean has commited, among other things, to guarantee a certain amount of passengers and pay a fee to berth at the island of St. Croix.

Royal Caribbean owns two of the largest cruise ships in the world that already visit St. Thomas on alternate weeks (Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas).

Officials said the deal was reached after several years of negotiation and becomes effective October 2016.

Royal Caribbean sending more ships to U.S. Virgin Islands

23 May 2012

The U.S. Virgin Islands is excited to welcome two additional Royal Caribbean ships to its islands after Royal Caribbean announced its new Caribbean itineraries in 2013-2014.

Jewel of the Seas will visit St. Thomas while Adventure of the Seas will stop at St. Thomas and St. Croix, which is in addition to the other Royal Caribbean ships that had been visiting the islands.

USVI Governor Jogn de Jongh, Jr. commented on Royal Caribbean's new deployment plans and the importance of St. Croix as a destination, "The Virgin Islands has a wonderful relationship with Royal Caribbean, and that is reflected in the cruise line's newest itineraries, which frequently call on the territory's ports."

The change marks the cruise line's largest deployment ever in the region.

Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will continue to alternate seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries with stops in St. Thomas, while Freedom of the Seas' Eastern Caribbean itinerary lists calls on St. Thomas.

Dredging of St Thomas Harbor halts

05 Oct 2010

West Indian Company Ltd. President and CEO Ed Thomas said it and Royal Caribbean were going to spend a combined $15-$20 million to dredge St. Thomas Harbor so that mega ships Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas could dock there but not anymore.

The cruise lines are not going to put up that money because they accomplished their goal,” he said. “Their ship is in St. Thomas. Certainly the West Indian Company is not going to put up money to do that kind of dredging because the ship is already in St. Thomas.

Problems started back on October 14, 2009 when Governor John deJongh Jr put the dredging project on hold after substantial public opposition.  Those opposed to the dredging plan were concerned about the part of the plan that called for dumping 162,000 cubic yards of material into an existing depression in Lindbergh Bay.  While searching for an alternative, Oasis of the Seas would have to dock in Crown Bay.

Despite the halt in the plan, deJongh was confident that the dredging project would be complete in time for Allure of the Seas' first stop in St Thomas on December 10, 2010 during the busy tourist season.  However, talks never progressed very far according to Thomas, talks collapsed in January.

The trend of cruise ships getting larger and larger means St. Thomas Harbor will eventually need to be dredged acrroding to Thomas and that the harbor is already due for maintenance dredging thanks to all of the debris kicked up by departing and arriving cruise thips over the last few years.

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