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Gib welcomes first commercial cruise ship since onset of Covid

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

Gibraltar welcomed its first commercial cruise liner on Friday since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic with the arrival of Wind Surf. 

Operated by Windstar Cruises, the Bahamas-flagged luxury sailing ship, arrived in Gibraltar from Malaga at 8am, and left for Cadiz in the evening as part of its tour of the Western Mediterranean. 

Some 60 of the 91 passengers onboard the vessel were able to disembark the vessel on Friday and spent their time visiting the tourist sites in Gibraltar. 

A spokesman for the Gibraltar Government said only passengers on a prebooked tour were allowed ashore and must have had a negative swab in the past 24 hours as well as their vaccine certificate. 

Passengers will be doing the tour and going straight back to the ship,” the spokesman added. 

“No free time has been allocated as they need to stick to their bubbles.” 

“This is company policy.”

The Minister for Tourism, Vijay Daryanani, boarded the Wind Surf on Friday and was given a short tour of the ship by Captain Roman Krstanovic. 

He also presented the Captain with a framed photograph of Gibraltar who, in return, presented Mr Daryanani with a Wind Surf plaque.

“I am delighted to see the return of cruising to Gibraltar,” Mr Daryanani said.

“I hope this is the first of many visits to our Rock.” 

“The cruising industry worldwide has suffered immensely over the last eighteen months and our businesses have missed these calls tremendously.”

“The Government is committed to increasing cruise calls to our Port.” 

“Throughout the pandemic we have been in constant communication with all cruise operators, but I want to take this one step further by engaging with them in person when travel allows.” 

“As the major cruise companies start working on their itineraries for 2023 and 2024, Gibraltar’s aim is to be at the forefront of their plans”.

The Wind Surf is scheduled to return to Gibraltar next week. 

The Gibraltar Port Authority has listed some 50 cruise liners visiting Gibraltar from now until the end of the year, providing hope for those in the tourism industry. 

Henry Catania, Director of Calypso Tours, is hopeful that this will bring tourists back to Gibraltar, adding that it provides the Rock with the light at the end of the tunnel. 

“While this is nothing in comparison to what we used to have, but even though these are scheduled you just never know,” Mr Catania said. 

“We don’t know whether things can turn for the worst again and then the cruise liners start dropping their scheduled calls to Gibraltar.” 

“Gibraltar has a big influence from what is happening in Spain, and if cruise liners are scheduling itineraries in the Western Mediterranean, then that means they will schedule a stop in Gibraltar as well.” 

“If for any reason the Covid-19 situation in Spain changes, that has a knock-on effect on cruise liners choosing those itineraries, and that will have a knock-on effect on Gibraltar as well.” 

“I have always said this, but when Spain sneezes, Gibraltar catches a call, specifically when it comes to the tourism industry.” 

Some 60 passengers were booked on excursions in Gibraltar, with some opting for the Walking Tour, the Gibraltar Highlights tour, and the City Under Siege tour before returning to the ship. 

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