BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CUOPM) -- Tourism stakeholders in St Kitts can look forward to dramatic increases in cruise ship passengers during the 2014/2015 season.
As cruise passengers continue to edge towards the one million mark, tourism officials project an increase from 650,000 for the 2013/2014 to more than 700,000 in 2014/2015 as a result of recent sales calls to key industry executives.
Pullmantur, Costa, Aida and TUI cruises have placed St Kitts’ Port Zante on their itineraries and other lines are increasing calls to the port of Basseterre.
“As a direct result of our persistent sales calls, as well as our focus on improving our destination product and service offerings, we are pleased to announce that the significant growth we have seen in the cruise sector over the past six years will continue,” said Sen. Ricky Skerritt, minister of tourism and international transport.
He said cruise executives have indicated to him that St Kitts has become an increasingly important port of call, one that helps them market their itineraries.
For the first time, St Kitts and Nevis will be receiving scheduled calls from four ships of the luxury Seabourn Cruise Line, which will make a total of 29 calls in 2013/2014 bringing over 6,000 passengers.
Pullmantur Cruises will make 22 weekly calls in the 2013/2014 season from the ship Horizon, which will provide roughly 30,800 incremental passengers. It is the first Spanish cruise line to call at St Kitts.
Costa Cruise Line will make six calls in 2013/2014 with the Costa Mediterranean, which will bring an additional 14,400 passengers.
Two German-based lines will call on St Kitts in the next two seasons with Aida Cruises making a total of 11 calls from two vessels in 2013/2014, which will total 27,100 passengers, and TUI Cruises bringing back the Mein Schiff for regular season calls in 2014/2015 following a successful test season in 2011/2012.
Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Lines has booked calls in 2014/2015 with the Norwegian Pearl, which will make 14 calls bringing nearly 33,500 passengers, and with the Norwegian Breakaway, which will make three calls bringing an estimated 12,000 new passengers.
Disney Cruise Line will be making four offseason calls in the summer of 2014, yielding a projected total of 9,600 passengers.
In February 2013, Carnival Cruise Line replaced the weekly year-round calls of the Carnival Victory with the larger capacity Carnival Valor, which has increased the berths per call by 216. The Valor also carries 407 more crew members than the Victory. Royal Caribbean International is also expected to increase its number of calls in 2014/2015.
St Kitts passed the half million passenger arrivals mark for the first time in the 2009/2010 cruise season.
A recent study conducted by the US-based research firm BREA (Business Research & Economic Advisors) places St Kitts among the highest-rated destinations in the entire Caribbean in these categories for the 2011/2012 cruise year.
The study also reveals growth in cruise passenger arrivals to St Kitts of more than 400% over the past six years.
The most dramatic increases over the six-year period were in direct cruise tourism spending, which increased nearly ten-fold from $6.7 million to $70.6 million over the six-year period.
Average per passenger expenditures in St Kitts have almost doubled since 2006, while average expenditures across the Caribbean have actually declined by 2%.
Average per passenger spend in St Kitts was measured at $57.40 in the 2006/2006 cruise year, 40% below the Caribbean average, but increased to $108.90 in the 2011/2012 cruise year, 14% above the Caribbean average.
The percentage of passengers reporting that they there were extremely or very satisfied with their overall St Kitts shopping experience was 74% in the 2011/2012 cruise year as compared to just 47% in the 2005/2006 cruise year.
For the 2011/2012 cruise year, results of the study show that St Kitts ranks #2 in the Caribbean in passenger satisfaction with their overall visit and #2 in passengers reporting that their visit to St Kitts met or exceeded their expectations.
St Kitts also ranked at #3 in the Caribbean in passenger satisfaction with their shore excursion, at #4 in average expenditure per passenger and at #6 in total cruise passenger expenditures.
Concurrently, BREA reports substantial growth in cruise passenger arrivals to St. Kitts, which increased from 117,000 in the 2005/2006 cruise year to 629,000 in the 2011/2012 cruise year, an increase of more than 400% as compared to an increase of 13% throughout the Caribbean over the six-year period.