US Virgin Island Cruise Arrivals Almost Double

In an upbeat end-of-year report, tourism officers within the US Virgin Islands took inventory of the positive factors achieved in 2023 and predicted regular development in arrivals and income within the coming yr. A big rebound in cruise arrivals on the islands’ two ports was hailed as an indication of the area’s continued resiliency.

Cruise Friends to St. Thomas Break 1 Million Mark

Cruising, lodge occupancy, airlift, and different tourism-related sectors all present promising outcomes from 2023, and native journey officers are gearing up for a sturdy 2024, a year-end assertion from the territory’s tourism division exhibits.

Cruise arrivals to St. Thomas reached 1.1 million between January 2022 and October 2023, almost double the 660,000 arrivals recorded from January 2021 to September 2022. On St. Croix, 140,000 cruise visitors visited, versus 44,000 through the earlier timeframe. Total, the will increase quantity to a couple of outstanding 80% spike.

Worldwide arrivals in complete for the fourth quarter of 2023 usually are not but out there however are projected to rise by almost 40% in comparison with pre-pandemic 2019, with extended-stay visitors spiking by 25%.

In addition to cruise, different journey sectors are doing nicely, too. Air journey capability is displaying enhancements following shortages of pilots and plane in 2022. In 2023, capability from the US to St. Thomas rose by 21% and to St. Croix by 23%. The territory’s lodge occupancy degree is roughly 61%.

Cruise Ships within the US Virgin Islands (Picture Credit score: Victor Maschek)

The US Virgin Islands has proven resilience and adaptableness, even in difficult occasions. As we enter 2024, we’re excited to construct on our success and deal with key areas that can additional elevate our vacation spot,mentioned Joseph Boschulte, commissioner on the USVI Division of Tourism.

Looking forward to 2024, the US Virgin Islands will proceed to strengthen its presence within the sports activities and leisure arenas, in addition to proceed to construct out cultural correlation with the Caribbean diaspora,added Boschulte.

Enlargement of Cruise Ports on The Horizon

The cruise ports at each St. Thomas and St. Croix have been lately earmarked for a major enlargement of services. An announcement in October 2023 revealed that the Board of Governors for the Virgin Islands Port Authority accredited an settlement with Royal Caribbean that can improve the cruise terminals and dredge the harbors to permit for the lodging of bigger ships.

The mission, whose begin date has not been introduced, will modernize services and develop infrastructure on the Crown Bay Heart, on St. Thomas, and on the Austin “Babe” Monsanto Marine Terminal, in Frederiksted, St. Croix.

The quantity of the funding was not disclosed, however officers mentioned the upgrades can be funded by the brand new Capital Value Restoration Cost payment, which shall be levied on guests to each locations who arrive aboard Royal Caribbean ships beginning on January 1, 2024. The payment is $5 per visitor.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship in US Virgin Islands
Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship in US Virgin Islands (Picture Credit score: Ruth Peterkin)

Among the many upgrades shall be a dredging plan to allow Royal Caribbean’s three Freedom-class ships — Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, and Independence of the Seas, to dock on the islands.  Freedom of the Seas is 1,111 toes lengthy with a 30-foot draft.

In addition to its partnership with Royal Caribbean, the USVI territory is a member of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Affiliation, and expects the group to assist increase cruise ship calls to St. Thomas and St. Croix.

The partnership with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Affiliation will assist us to extend cruise calls, create new experiences, collaborate with the native non-public sector, and generate employment alternatives. Cruise passenger projections point out an 80% rise by means of 2024, with almost 650,000 new passengers anticipated,the USVI year-end report states.

Learn Additionally: When is the Greatest Time to Go to US Virgin Islands?

The report famous that the territory will try to draw extra guests from Denmark, Italy, and Canada, and can prioritize growing air capability from the US, Canada, and Europe. Doing so may doubtlessly lead ships to homeport in St. Thomas moderately than use it solely as a port of name.

St. John, the USVI’s third island, has no cruise port however is usually provided as an tour by ferry on ships calling at St. Thomas. St. John’s key attraction is its rural, undeveloped land and the pristine Virgin Islands Nationwide Park, which occupies greater than half the island.

Cruise Ship in US Virgin Islands

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