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Caribbean Cruise Ports, Operators Eye Customer Development

Practically three years after pandemic struggles absent from different journey segments just about scuttled Caribbean cruises, practically each main port has reopened, as locations work with operators to develop regional homeports and drive customer development.

A number of main Caribbean ports are reporting robust 2023 passenger arrivals, persevering with a development pattern established final yr, when a number of locations’ cruise customer numbers out-paced pre-pandemic 2019 totals.


“The cruise trade was impacted closely, most likely extra so than another a part of the tourism and hospitality trade throughout the pandemic,” mentioned Leah Chandler, chief advertising officer at Uncover Puerto Rico.

“So it has been a tough couple of years, not only for us, however for each vacation spot that acquired cruise ships,” she mentioned.

Puerto Rico’s cruise enterprise has since rebounded strongly. The territory hosted 21,000 cruise passengers aboard 5 ships in January mentioned Chandler. “That was simply within the first a part of the month, in order that’s a robust a robust begin for us,” she added. “We now have lots of confidence we will proceed to see these numbers develop.”

Cruise ships in San Juan
Puerto Rico hosted 5 cruise ships in January. (Photograph by Brian Main)

Rising Arrivals

Different prime ports are additionally reporting elevated shipboard arrivals. Chester Cooper, the Bahamas’ minister of tourism, mentioned not too long ago the territory’s 2022 cruise arrivals elevated by practically 400 % over 2021 and “had been lower than one % under 2019 cruise arrivals.”

After an 18-month interval throughout which no cruise ships visited the vacation spot, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ 2023 passenger arrivals are anticipated to surpass 2019 totals, reaching 1.eight million visitors, mentioned Joseph Boschulte, commissioner of the U.S. Virgin Islands Division of Tourism.

In a St. Thomas Supply interview, Boschulte mentioned cruise ships are crusing at close to full capability prior to anticipated, with most arriving at 90 % capability, ranges not anticipated by analysts till late 2023.

Among the many final Caribbean nations to re-open to guests post-outbreak, the Cayman Islands hosted 743,394 cruise passengers in 2022 regardless of allowing cruise calls starting solely in March.

“Confidence within the vacation spot because of our measured and phased method to reopening led to pent-up demand which accelerated our visitation quantity as soon as all journey restrictions had been dropped,” mentioned Rosa Harris, the Cayman Islands’ director of tourism.

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Even a few of the smallest Caribbean nations are welcoming elevated cruise calls. Dominica has hosted 139 cruise ship visits by February 28, bringing 216,489 passengers to the nation shores, mentioned Uncover Dominica officers quoted in native information studies. Officers count on 196 cruise calls by the tip of 2023.

The mixed knowledge augurs properly for cruise strains’ continued growth within the Caribbean, the trade’s main deployment area. The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico had been all among the many prime 10 CTO-tracked locations when it comes to cruise visitation in 2019.

Earlier this month Neil Walters, performing secretary normal of the Caribbean Tourism Group (CTO), mentioned the cruise trade “is anticipated to proceed recovering and increasing to satisfy growing demand, with 32 to 33 million cruise passenger visits anticipated” in 2023, representing a “5 to 10 % improve over the pre-COVID baseline determine.”

Vacation spot Growth

A number of Caribbean nations are additionally in search of to increase cruise operations of their nations through agreements with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Affiliation (FCCA), whose operators symbolize greater than 90 % of worldwide cruise capability.

Earlier this month, FCCA and the British Virgin Islands authorities signed an settlement to spice up cruise ship visits and formulate new shore tour choices.

The settlement will even “facilitate new experiences to supply cruise corporations and collaborate with the native non-public sector to maximise any alternatives.” U.S. Virgin Islands officers signed an identical settlement with FCCA in February; St. Maarten officers additionally reached a pact with FCCA earlier this yr.

“Though we have now not but surpassed 2019’s numbers throughout the board in each jurisdiction, the needle is actually transferring in the correct path,” mentioned Kenneth Bryan, CTO’s chairman and minister of tourism for the Cayman Islands.

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