An overhead view shot of Port of Spain's cruise terminals (Photo: Cruise Mapper)

T&T welcomes Royal Caribbean after a decade of absence from ports

An overhead view shot of Port of Spain's cruise terminals (Photo: Cruise Mapper)

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has welcomed the news that Royal Caribbean International has included in the itinerary of its vessel, Grandeur of the Seas, stops on both islands of the republic.

Earlier this month the cruise tour company said it will commission  Grandeur of the Seas on three separate seven- and 14-night itineraries from its new home in the Southern Caribbean, the Port of Bridgetown in Barbados. In addition, the company announced three new stops — Trinidad, Tobago and St Vincent — in the vessel’s itinerary when it resumes operations for the 2021-2022 winter season later this year.

Royal Caribbean to call Port of Bridgetown home

‘Years in advance’

In light of this development, Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Senator Randall Mitchell expressed excitement to welcome Grandeur of the Seas to the islands’ ports.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Senator Randall Mitchell (File photo)

“These itineraries are planned years in advance. Both our islands are beautiful, warm and welcoming with a few undiscovered gems along the way. Now, passengers using Royal Caribbean International will experience them once again, and we will prepare to heavily incorporate our distinct and rich culture in our offerings to distinguish our destination from our Caribbean neighbours,” Minister Mitchell said.

According to a release from the Government’s news arm, the decision to add the ports comes after principals of the world’s second-largest cruise firm held discussions with Mitchell and shipping agent Charles Carvalho at the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association’s Conference and Trade Show in November 2018. 

Not a certainty

However, the tourism minister indicated that the stops will depend on the Government’s willingness to reopen the country’s borders.

Grandeur of the Seas (File photo)

“This development is certainly an encouraging one, and while it remains conditional on the re-opening of our borders and the decision to recommence receiving cruise ships, it shows continued interest in destinations Trinidad and Tobago,” Mitchell pointed out.

In the interim, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts has begun preparing for when visitors return to the shores of Trinidad and Tobago by developing health protocols for the tourism industry.

Growth in cruise tourism

According to the ministry, “Over 91,000 cruise passengers came to Trinidad and Tobago in 2019. This figure reflects an increase over the previous years, except for 2018, which was an unusual year due to the closure of several regional ports because of the hurricane season. Despite this, the figures for that year show that Trinidad and Tobago had unusually high numbers.”

A sign at the Port of Scarborough welcomes vessels to berth in the facilities terminals
(Photo: Wikimedia)

“Prior to COVID-19, the cruise industry was the fastest-growing segment of the worldwide leisure travel market and demand had increased by close to 21 percent in the past five (5) years. According to industry data, cruise passengers are willing to spend more on activities such as beach tours, off-road/scenic tours or in duty-free shopping on many island nations,” it continued.

In addition to calls on Port of Spain in Trinidad and Scarborough in Tobago, Grandeur of the Seas will make stops in Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent, as well as the Dutch-speaking ABC islands — Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.