Following a series of vital meetings with its major cruise line partners last week, Antigua and Barbuda was successful in reassuring its cruise line partners of the readiness of the destination to receive additional calls for the upcoming 2017-2018 winter cruise tourism season.
The country’s tourism Minister the Hon Asot A. Michael, after leading a delegation of tourism Ministers and officials from St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda was able to confirm extremely positive news for the destination.
Between October and December 31st this year, the destination will welcome and receive a projected 459,138 cruise guests, from 226 ship calls. Of these calls 57 were recent additions to the schedule and 12 will be inaugural calls from ships that have never visited our port before.
This means that the total estimate of cruise ship visitors to Antigua and Barbuda for the entire year will be the highest ever with some 907,172 visitors, making 2017 a record-breaking year for cruise tourism.
While the country is receiving an unprecedented number of calls this season due to the reassignment of itineraries, as a result of the recent hurricanes Tourism Minister, The Hon. Asot A. Michael commented, “This great milestone would not have been possible without the hard work and investment done by the Government in upgrading our cruise facilities. In record-breaking time we lengthened the Heritage Quay pier and completed the dredging of our harbour and turning basin to safely accommodate the visiting ships. It is the ABLP administration’s foresight in returning the Cruise Tourism sector to the front burner that is now yielding dividends for the entire country” said Minister Michael.
Several days in December will see multiple calls with the largest number of cruise passengers ever to visit the island scheduled to arrive on December 26th ‘Boxing Day’ with over 20,000 passengers and crew members from 8 ships arriving on island.
Preliminary meetings and contingency plans have already started with all key cruise tourism stakeholders along with the various support and security services, to ensure that Antigua and Barbuda offers our cruise guests a first-class experience to mark this special day along with the additional cruise ship calls in the upcoming days and weeks.
This trend of increased cruise ship calls will continue into the first quarter of 2018 and result in significant impact to the Antigua and Barbuda’s economy. One of the criteria that is evaluated by cruise itinerary planners to determine where ships are deployed is the feedback from guests as to their experience in each port of call.
It is therefore critical that while the country continues in its efforts to attract more cruise ship visitors, a collective effort must be made by all residents to ensure that we provide a warm and unforgettable welcome to our many cruise passengers who will be visiting us for the very first time.