The Caribbean has undoubtedly become one of the most important markets for cruises from all over the world, a tourist modality that represents a significant door of entry of visitors to the majority of the area destinations.
According to an economic report by Nassim José Alemany, published by the newspaper Hoy, the cruise industry that covers the Caribbean, Mexican, Central and South American destinations generated on a global level local spending of US$3.160 billion during the cited season.
News reports refer to important cruise companies sailing through the waters of the region, as well as their plans for the next campaign. Moreover, it is expected that during 2016 that industry will reach close to 24 million passengers on a global level, according to a report from the Cruise Lines International Association.
During the present season, several companies have put in at ports in Cuba. Non-official sources say that in addition to the entrance of MSC and Carnival Corporation, other companies like Royal Caribbean, NLC, Harmark, Costa Cruises, Pearl Seas Cruises or United Caribbean Lines are exploring the ground in the largest of the Caribbean islands.
MSC is carrying out its winter route through the Caribbean, a circuit that will be extended until next April and puts in at Havana (Cuba), Montego Bay (Jamaica), George Town (Cayman Islands) and the island of Cozumel (Mexico).
For the 2016-2017 season the company will double its operations in Cuba with a second ship’s mother port in Havana: the MSC Armonia will join the MSC Opera starting November and will offer itineraries that add more Caribbean and Central American destinations: Havana and the Isla de la Juventud (Cuba), the island of Roatán (Honduras), Belize City and Costa Maya (Mexico).
The German ships MS Deutschland (which transports more than 400 passengers) and Sea Cloud I (more than 90 travelers) of the Meter Deilman and Sea Cloud Cruises GmbH companies, respectively, which make stopovers in Cuba – in the ports of Havana, Cienfuegos and Antilla/María La Gorda –, deserve special mention.
The Dominican Republic’s economy received US$61 million in cruises during the 2014-2015 season, and almost 2,000 workers were employed.
Between 60-70% of the travelers reaching the Amber Cove cruise port, in Maimón Bay, Puerto Plata, buy excursions, which is why not only is the arrival of a large number of visitors significant but also the fact that a great deal of them make contact with the attractions the north coast of the Caribbean island offers. The average spending per cruise passenger is 100 dollars.
It is expected that the port terminal –built by Carnival Corporation and inaugurated in October 2015– will attract at least 350,000 visitors in its first year of operations presumably because of the diverse options offered to passengers when touching land. In Samaná, the cruise companies that concentrate the largest weight of cruise season are Holland America, Aida Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Oceania, Regent, Le Ponant and Silversea Cruises, with a total of 34 stopovers, which it is estimated will contribute more than 53,000 passengers.
Meanwhile, Panama is also setting its sights on that modality, which is why its president, Juan Carlos Varela, met in Miami with high-ranking executives of the sector and of important companies like Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean International to promote the country as a cruise port and highlight its potential in terms of air and maritime connectivity through the expansion of the Panama Canal.
The government of Costa Rica also announced that tourism in the Caribbean coast was reanimated thanks to the arrival in late 2015 of 56 ships to Puerto Limón with an average local traffic of 2,076 passengers, a result of the “Costa Rica from the Caribbean” government initiative.
Another attractive novelty in the area is that MSC Cruises announced an investment of close to 200 million dollars to create the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, an unprecedented experience in an island of the Bahamas. With a lease agreement for 10 years, the company hopes to turn the cay into a prosperous reserve in harmony with the ecosystem.
Consulted sources: Travel Trade Caribbean, Caribbean News, sergat.com, newsinamerica.com, arecoa.com and Hostelur