Sri Lanka is providing anchoring, sludging and crew transfer services to two Princess Line ships anchored outside Colombo port which can be seen from Marine Drive and Galle Face, Sri Lanka Ports Authority said.
The cruise ships are the Crown Princess and Island Princess.
“Both the vessels came for sludge and garbage removal, and to receive bunkering services,” Sri Lanka Ports Authority said.
“The Colombo port charges for all the service it provides while sludging and garbage clearance are provided by local agents” officials said.
The Crown Princess disembarked 479 crew members out of which 380 were Indians and 99 Indonesians, while Island Princess disembarked 277 Indians.
The Indonesians had then joined the Island princess while the Indians were flown home.
“Ultimately 600 odd Indian crew members were flown back via a charter flight while the ships cleared sludge and garbage,” Sri Lanka Ports officials told EconomyNext.
“We provide the services using the available technologies and these crew changes take place without the direct involvement of Sri Lankans,” the said.
Sri Lanka halted cruise tourism in early March as the Coronavirus spread to Europe and US, however, it is allowing cruise liners to dock in Colombo for supplies, fuel and crew changes on humanitarian grounds.
Sri Lanka started crew transfer services last month. Airport and Aviation Services and Island’s ports are working together to help ships change crew as most of the airports remain closed.
The Aviation authority said that crew transfer service is a new business opportunity created due to the COVID pandemic.
“We are getting paid for the services we provide but more than the economic gain, the positive impact on Sri Lanka’s ports and its reputation will be highlighted,
“We are giving a signal out to the world that we are trying to provide services in times of a pandemic. We have taken the lead in the region compared to other regions.
Officials at the port’s authority say that these services provided amid a pandemic will immensely help Sri Lanka’s in its promotion strategy for cruise tourism.
Even before COVID-19 hit Sri Lanka, there were large number of ships scheduled to call in Colombo. In March alone there were 29 ships scheduled to visit.
“By providing all these services, we are anchoring the business for the long term”.