Seychelles expects to reopen its cruise ship season in August when cruise ships with a maximum capacity of 300 passengers will be allowed to visit the islands.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde announced the decision Tuesday following a meeting with partners related to cruise ships to discuss whether the country was ready to re-launch the cruise ship season as the country opens its borders to visitors coming by air.
Bringing together destination management companies, ship handing agents, health officials and the ports authorities, the meeting also examined whether there was a demand for a reopening to cruise ships.
Radegonde told journalists that his ministry will now work on a proposal to be presented to the cabinet of ministers to have the moratorium imposed last year due to COVID-19 revoked.
A year ago on March 9, the government of Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – announced that it was temporarily closing down the island nation to cruise ships, a decision taken to protect the population from the threat of the COVID-19 virus.
This decision ended the 2019-20 cruise season. The Norwegian Spirit was the last ship to call in Port Victoria in March 2020.
“In view of the measures being taken as of 25th of March to reopen Seychelles to visitors, we have wanted to meet all the actors, all people involved in the cruise shipping business to discuss the possibility of also opening Seychelles to cruise shipping. We agreed going forward what the key measures are taken. And one key measure is that we would rather look at small cruise ships,” explained the minister.
Radegonde added that for now only ships with a maximum capacity of 300 passengers will allow to the island nation and passengers are being encouraged to be vaccinated.
The Crystal Esprit will be the first cruise ship to return to the islands later in August launching the 2021 – 22 season. The ship will bring around 60 visitors. Another ship with 150 passengers is expected in October.
According to the minister “from what we have been told one of these two ships will stay in Seychelles’ waters for quite a period of time.”
The ministry confirmed that there are several cruise ship companies already showing interest in the islands and these include Ponnant, Europa and Jacques Cartier.
Radegonde explained that leading up to August all agencies concerned in collaboration with the Seychelles Ports Authority and the Public Health Authority will have to work on their COVID-19 guidelines and Standard Operations Procedures.