CHARLOTTE AMALIE, ST. THOMAS -- Cruise ship arrivals to the U.S.
Virgin Islands decreased by 19% during the 11 months that ended
Aug. 31, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to
the Virgin Islands Port Authority.
That drop translated into approximately 370,000 fewer cruise
passengers visiting the territory.
Tourism officials attributed about half of the drop to the
cessation of almost all cruise-ship calls to St. Croix, beginning
in April 2002. Ships skipped St. Croix because of concerns about
passenger safety and a lack of demand.
A sluggish economy, the reluctance of Americans to travel after
9/11, and the repositioning of several ships to ports north and
west of Miami for western Caribbean itineraries also contributed to
the territory-wide decline, VIPA said.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, St. Vincent and the
Grenadines are about to be discovered, at least by cruise
Five inaugural visits and a 42% rise in cruise passengers are
expected this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism &
Princess Cruises' Sun Princess got the ball rolling in October
with its first of eight calls through April. Four European ships
also will drop anchor in Kingstown, St. Vincent, for the first time
In all, more than 120,000 cruise travelers on 226 port calls are
scheduled to visit St. Vincent as well as the islands of Bequia,
Tobago Cays, Mayreau and Canouan.
The Ministry of Tourism & Culture has actively courted
cruise business since opening its new terminal in 2000. Last year,
cruse passengers accounted for 28% of visitor arrivals, which
Rene Baptiste, minister, cited a report by the Cruise Lines
International Association which stated that St. Vincent and the
Grenadines "resonate well with cruise passengers because of the
diversity of activities and historical sites offered."
To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].