Barbados Provides Update on Status of Cruising and What to Expect

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Barbados cruise

18 December, 2021

Prior to 2020, cruise tourism was a major sector in Barbados’ overall tourism industry and now the island nation is getting back on track for many cruise ship arrivals this winter season.

Let's talk about the status of cruise tourism, what’s new and what’s ahead. Tia Broomes, acting senior business development officer, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. about the status of cruise tourism, what’s new and what’s ahead.

Broomes says that 2019 was another record cruise tourism year with 858,828 cruise passengers, both for transit (port of call visitors) and home porting (embarkation) arrivals; that was a 3 percent increase from 2018.

“Of course, we pretty much had a non-existent cruise season last year due to all global travel restrictions, but so far, cruise bookings for the upcoming winter cruise season are very promising,” Broomes notes. “Even with ships sailing at reduced capacity, expected cruise arrivals are still significan

Back to Barbados

The first cruise ship returned to the island on June 7, 2021, as Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Millennium made a transit call with almost 700 passengers and was welcomed by top tourism officials. “Everyone was super excited and very happy to see cruise passengers visiting the island again,” she said, adding that “there is so much that we have learned since cruising resumed.”

Broomes says the island was able to put its protocols to the test and “so far all is going well,” which is also a “positive indicator that the extensive efforts dedicated to crafting the protocols really paid off.”

Cruise lines that have sailed into Barbados during the last half of 2021 include Seabourn, Windstar Cruises, Holland America Line, Atlas Ocean Voyages, Viking, Star Clippers, Silversea Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Cunard Line, MSC Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, as well as many European cruise lines.

Also arriving this winter season are Azamara, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Ponant, Oceania Cruises, Crystal Cruises and others.

In addition, the Port of Bridgetown is upgrading the homeport terminal with enhanced aesthetics and have implemented improved passenger flow and safety in line with established COVID-19 protocols.

Testing and Touring Rules

While a standard PCR test is still required for travelers to enter Barbados, those coming to embark a cruise at the Port of Bridgetown now are permitted to arrive with either a standard or rapid PCR test. 

Bottom line? Even if travelers are arriving by air flights, if they’re heading to embark their ship in Barbados, they are considered “sea arrivals.” So, in that case, the rapid PCR test is acceptable.

Broomes suggest travelers check out official Barbados’ travel requirements/protocols pertaining to cruisers. That's available at These guidelines also give information about “transit” arrivals, a term used to describe cruisers visiting the island on a port of call visit by a cruise ship. Those cruisers are permitted to disembark and purchase:

  • Tours approved for sale by tour operators as authorized by cruise lines.
  • Tours approved for sale by independent tour operators and taxi operators as authorized by the Government of Barbados following the appropriate health and security requirements.

Guests using the second option must take approved taxis dispatched from the secure designated taxi facilities within the Bridgetown Port or must have a pre-booked tour confirmed by e-mail from an approved tour operator for pick up in the Bridgetown Port.

That said, fully vaccinated guests arriving into Barbados on a port call visit with a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within three days of arrival will be permitted free shore leave. So, if the ship provides that test prior to arrival in Barbados, guests with proof of a negative result can head out independently upon arrival.

What’s New?

Broomes says most major attractions on the island have reopened, and new restaurants are now open too. “Being the culinary capital of the Caribbean, food is always on our mind and this can be seen with numerous new restaurant openings,” she says, citing Cosmo Club, Outpost at 111 East, Wafel Haus Café, QP Bistro (formerly the Cliff Beach Club) and Local and Co.; the latter uses all local produce for their menu items.”

She also reports that Quattro Passi, formerly the Cliff Restaurant, is expected to open by February 2022. Other restaurants are continuing to revamp menus and dining options. “For example, the popular Cocktail Kitchen has recently launched an amazing brunch menu on Sundays,” Broomes notes.

On the hotel side, for cruisers seeking a pre- or post-cruise stay, the O2 Beach Club & Spa opened this fall; it’s a new, five-star, all-inclusive luxury boutique hotel located in Dover on Barbados’ south coast. With 130 luxurious rooms and suites in three distinct “Collections” (Club, Luxury and Concierge), it also offers three pools including one of the island’s only rooftop pools. This new property also has six dining experiences, seven bars, a 5,600-square foot, full-service spa; fitness center and teen lounge.

In addition, South Seas Village at Sandals Royal Barbados opened last summer with 66 new suites, bringing the resort’s total room count to 338. This includes the brand's signature Rondoval Suites, Skypool and Crystal Lagoon Swim-Up Suites and Millionaire Butler Suite concepts. The resort also has two new wellness-inspired eateries – bringing the resort’s restaurant count to nine – and two new pools.

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