In the wake of continuing eruptions of La Soufriere Volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Barbados-based United States Embassy Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean said on Thursday that it is coordinating with Royal Caribbean Cruises for “a transit opportunity” for US citizens who wish to depart St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday, April 16 to Dutch Sint Maarten.
The embassy said, in a revised Natural Disaster Alert, that boarding on the Celebrity Reflection will begin at 7:00 am, and will depart Kingstown Port, St. Vincent and Grenadines, at 1:00 pm.
The ship will arrive in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten on the morning of Saturday, April 17, at approximately 7:00 am, the embassy said.
It said the Atlanta-based US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “recommends against travel on cruise ships because the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is higher since the virus appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships.”
The embassy said there is no cost or travel fare for the ship’s voyage.
It, however, said US citizens will be responsible for making their own onward travel arrangements.
“Please plan accordingly, including potential hotel stays in Sint Maarten and booking onward commercial airline flights from the Sint Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport, which offers direct flight to multiple US cities,” the embassy urged.
It said US citizens who decide not to depart St. Vincent and the Grenadines to be prepared to “shelter in place for an undetermined amount of time,” adding that “there are currently no future plans for other transit opportunities.”
The US Embassy urged US citizens to register online by completing the US Mission Bridgetown and the Eastern Caribbean – Manifest Form, stating that the deadline to register is Thursday, April 15 at noon.
The embassy said there are several travel restrictions, including no children under the age of six months; no pregnant women over 23 weeks of gestation; no individuals requiring dialysis; no individuals with terminal conditions; no individuals who have been identified as close contacts of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case; and no pets.
“All departing passengers two years of age and older are required to have a negative COVID Antigen Rapid Test (taken within 24 hours of boarding),” the US Embassy said. “A printed copy of your negative test results will be required prior to boarding the cruise ship.”
It said a testing center, Health Solutions Inc., is located near the seaport in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“All passengers are required to complete a health questionnaire prior to boarding,” the embassy said. “The ship will have the form available at the pier.”
It said travelers are required to complete an online immigration (ED) card prior to travel to Sint Maarten and must purchase mandatory COVID-19 health insurance prior to travel to Sint Maarten.
In addition, the embassy said all airline passengers to the US ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 test (either PCR or Rapid Antigen) taken within three calendar days of travel.
Alternatively, it said travelers to the US may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.
The embassy said masks are required until guests reach their staterooms onboard the cruise ship.
It said any guest who requires medicines (insulin, etc.) should board with adequate stock for several days, and that food and water will be provided onboard the cruise ship.