Barbados recorded its strongest year yet for cruise ship arrivals in a single year.
The country’s port saw a three per cent increase to 853,300 tourist arrivals from 422 ships for the period January to December 2019.
That figure surpassed the 827,486 of the corresponding period of the prior year, which also had the added benefit of increased cruise ship arrivals from when 437 vessels docked, many having been rerouted to the island following the devastation wreaked on some regional destinations by hurricanes.
Despite fewer ships arriving at the Port of Bridgetown, cruise ship visitor numbers increased thanks to ships with larger capacities being deployed to the island, said Barbados Port Inc (BPI).
Cruise lines AIDA and TUI sent bigger ships to its port, with the former switching out its AIDA Diva for the 3,286-passenger AIDA Perla which accommodates 1,256 more tourists while TUI sent its Mein Schiff 2 which carries 2,894 people instead of the 2,500 capacity Mein Schiff 5.
“With the trend towards mega ships and the projected increase in cruise tourism passengers, BPI also has to respond to the growing numbers of smaller vessel operations…”– Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey
In addition, the cruise line Marella had 14 more calls to port for a total of 45 over the period.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, said BPI was improving its port capacity issues, and that several initiatives had been implemented to address concerns coming out of the National Cruise Development Commission Report, 2019.
These initiatives include the installation of signage to enhance wayfinding and guest experience, the renovation and enhancement of taxi dispatch facilities and the offering of improved guest services such as the quay to terminal tram service.
Humphrey said, “With the trend towards mega ships and the projected increase in cruise tourism passengers, BPI also has to respond to the growing numbers of smaller vessel operations, who desire a more geographically segmented product for their passengers, physically separated from the large vessel cruise tourism typically handled at the Port of Bridgetown.”
Additionally, a plan to develop Speightstown’s cruise facilities will create additional opportunities for Barbadians and local businesses in the area. “The initiative is not just a construction project on its own, but is rather a developmental project, incorporating planning gains as legislated by the Cabinet of Barbados for new projects, with attendant benefits for the surrounding community.”
Projections for cruise ship arrivals and calls this year exceed 2019’s figures as 850,000 tourists and 427 ship calls are expected.