Video report by ITV Channel's Serena Sandhu
The first cruise ship has arrived into Guernsey today (15 April) after a two-and-a-half year hiatus caused by coronavirus restrictions. German expedition ship Hanseatic Spirit is the first of the season.
A total of 86 visits to Guernsey are planned, with more than 35 cruise ships due between April and October. There are four visits planned to Sark, seven to Herm and two to Alderney. The Hebridean Sky plans to visit 10 times and the Emerald Princess eight times.
Captain David Barker, Guernsey's Harbour Master, said: "We’ve got 99 cruise ships booked for the Bailiwick, 86 of them are coming to Guernsey and that is back to the levels we had in 2018 so it is really encouraging.
"The first one the Hanseatic Spirit is small with just over 200 passengers but later this month have the Virtuosa with over 6,000 people on board and that will make a big difference."
Passengers were greeted to a warm welcome with a balloon arch at the top of the pontoon and the Meet & Greet team waving Guernsey flags and handing out Easter eggs. Classical singer Lee-Ann Hawkes serenaded guests as they disembarked the vessel.
Isabel de Menezes, Guernsey's Cruise Pier Manager, said: "Driving down from the North today and I could see the ship in the background. It means so much to so many people. The island needs this, we need the excitement of seeing passengers back, the economy needs people to spend money on the island but most of all there’s no better job than showing off the beautiful island of Guernsey and that’s my privilege."
It’s the first time a cruise ship has docked in the Bailiwick since 2019, when 80 vessels visited the Bailiwick bringing ashore more than 115,000 people.
Ken Wheeler, who is a tour guide, said: "It’s been dreadful for everyone concerned with tourists here. I was lucky in a short break last year we had guests from Germany in August and September but it was very, very difficult with Covid."
It is thought cruise ship visits contribute millions to the local economy each year.
Deputy Simon Vermeulen, Tourism Lead of Guernsey’s Economic Development Committee, said:
"I have dealt with retail people who’ve felt the pinch. Some town traders say it represents a third of their business so that’s been sorely missed. It’s really good for tourism, people will come back again on longer holidays and it’s really good for retail too. It’s a win win for Guernsey."
Jonathan Creasey, Creasey's Director, said: "Retailers are really looking forward to welcoming back cruise ship passengers, who add such vibrancy to our beautiful town. For some retailers, this is the life blood of their business so, after enduring a very challenging two years, it will come as a huge relief to welcome them back in 2022."
Cruise liners will be testing all passengers on arrival at the port before they depart.
Guernsey Ports are asking cruise operators and shipping agents to ensure all passengers are also aware of the strong recommendation to do a lateral flow test before coming ashore.
The full list of cruise liners due to visit can be found here.