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Crystal Cruises to base ship in Bahamas from July

Crystal Cruises has announced it will return to sailing on July 3, with Crystal Serenity to be based in the Bahamas.

The line’s interim president and chief executive Jack Anderson said the move would make its vessel “the first ocean ship to return to sailing in the Americas, as well as the first to be homeported in the Bahamas”.

Crystal Serenity, which will operate at a reduced capacity of no more than 900 guests, will sail seven-night “100% Bahamian itineraries” from July 3 until at least October, although Anderson suggested the line was likely to extend the season further.

Anderson said: “This is an exciting day for cruising, for the islands of the Bahamas, for Crystal and for all those who love and miss life enriching travel.”

He said the sailings offered the “perfect opportunity [for guests] to start exploring guests”, adding: “We’re certain of one thing – these Bahamas cruises are going to sell out very quickly and that will most likely encourage us to extend the season beyond October.”

Guests will have the choice of roundtrip sailings from either Nassau or Bimini, with visits to San Salvador, Long Island, Harbour Island and Great Exuma. The ship will sail from Nassau on Saturdays and Bimini on Sundays.

The itineraries will go on sale on March 18, with rates starting from $1,999. Guests will have the option to extend their stay with pre-and-post hotel packages available in Nassau and Bimini.

Anderson said guests from all countries, including the UK, would be welcome onboard as long as health and safety protocols have been met.

Last month, the line announced all guests would need to be vaccinated at least 14 days prior to departure. They will also be required to have a negative PCR test before leaving their home country, an antigen test prior to boarding and must also complete the Bahamas health visa questionnaire.

Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation for the Islands of the Bahamas, said: “This is a milestone achievement and one we are most honoured to be part of. After a year of uncertainty,  despair and doubt, we will remember this moment.

“Indeed this may well prove to be the tipping point for our citizens, for our tourism industry and for our nation. The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on tourism around the world, affecting cruise lines along with all other aspects of the tourism industry.

“We have most certainly seen the impact here in the Bahamas. 2019 was a record-breaking year for visitor arrivals to our country, which included 5.4 million visitors arriving by cruise. Given that more than 70% if the government’s tax revenue comes from tourism, the return of cruising from partners like Crystal Cruises will bring much needed economic relief to the country.”

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