Azura sails away with 3,500 passengers. Did it refuse to berth on the western section of the EC$150 million new pier?

Another cruise ship has cancelled a call to St Kitts’ Port Zante Tuesday morning after what appears to be an attempt by a tug to escort it to the western section of the new EC$150 million second cruise pier.

A statement from the St Kitts Tourism Authority Tuesday morning that the Azura “is unable to call at Port Zante today, Tuesday 14th January, 2020, due to strong winds causing hazardous seas,” is grossly misleading when three other cruise ships docked under the same weather conditions. Two – the Symphony of the Seas and a smaller one – docked at the first pier, while the Carnival Pride docked on the eastern section of the second pier thus leaving the western section vacant.

“Truth is the Azura refused to be coerced into docking at the western side which contnues to have the problem of the huge rock on the seabed. I observed the tug going out to meet the Azura as it sailed into the Basseterre Roadstead from the West. The tug went next to the Azura, which is a normal procedure to allow the local pilot to assist the visting ship to dock at the piers. But the local pilot never went onboard the Azura and the tug returned to Port Zante, minus the Azura,” said a person who observed the operations.

After hours waiting out to sea, the Azura sailed away with its 3,597 cruise passengers most likely to anotrher destination.

On Sunday, taxi operators refused to accept similar statements by tourism officials that “strong winds” were to be blamed for back to back cancellations by cruise ships to St Kitts’ Port Zante on Sunday, 12 January and Monday, 13 January, although other ships were able berth without difficulty under the same weather calm conditions.

No ship was docked at the Deep Water Port at Bird Rock.

Tuesday’s cancellation by the Azura of the P & O Cruises, brings to 13 the number of ship cancellations and loss of 65,400 passengers to St Kitts at a time when the industry is projecting a decrease in the number of cruise ships and cruise passengers for the 2019/2020 cruise season compared to the 2018/2019 season.

The itinerary for 2019/2020 is projecting 420 cruise ship calls with an estimated 1,086,844 passengers compared to 447 cruise ship calls with an estimated 1,212,462 passengers for 2018/2019, a decrease of 10 percent and 6 percent respectively.