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'This is the beginning of the future': Saint John welcomes return of cruise ships

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For the first time in more than 900 days, a cruise ship has docked in the Saint John Harbour.

The arrival of the Seven Seas Navigator on Thursday night marks the anticipated start of this year’s cruise season - and the return of an industry that the pandemic has kept grounded.

"The best way I could describe today would be euphoria," says Andrew Dixon, chief operating officer for the Port of Saint John.

"To see that ship sail in and berth, and know that this is the beginning of the future where we’re getting back to cruise – yeah, it’s fantastic."

The cruise season in Saint John includes 70 scheduled visits between now and early November.

Saint John mayor, Donna Reardon, says she feels confident and comfortable with cruise passengers arriving in the city.

"When I think about it, I’m going to walk down there and I’m going to see those cruise ships and experience that excitement and dynamic energy that they bring," says Reardon.

"I’m not going to show a passport, I’m not going to show anything about my vaccines - but every visitor that comes here has jumped through a lot of hoops to get to my sidewalk."

Cruise ship employees and passengers have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enter Canada, and passengers have to take a pre-embarkation COVID-19 test.

The captain of the Seven Seas Navigator says there is one case of the virus on board that involves a crew member, who we are told is asymptomatic and isolating.

However, he stresses that the pandemic precautions in place are very strict because they know how it can impact business.

"All of our crew as soon as they step outside of their cabin they need to wear the masks, then also we are doing daily measuring of the temperature, every time you go off and on the ship," says captain, Lukša Kristović.

"Still the crew and organization on board is much, much strict and higher than what we have on any country shoreside."

The Seven Seas Navigator has a passenger capacity of 490.

The first large cruise ship to arrive in Saint John will be on June 8 with the inaugural call of the Oasis of the Seas, which has a passenger capacity of 5,400.

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