Antigua & Barbuda’s Tourism Delegation led by the Hon. H. Charles Fernandez held a series of meetings with the country’s critical cruise line partners at Seatrade Cruise Global, the cruise industry’s largest annual conference held at the newly rebuilt Miami Beach Convention Center.
The annual Seatrade Cruise Global Conference presented Antigua and Barbuda with a not-to-be missed opportunity to showcase its products and services to the cruise industry buyers and decision makers. It provided unique networking opportunities with industry leaders from all facets of the industry, and exposed its tourism executives to the conference’s educational industry programs, which allows participants to stay ahead of the curve.
The Country’s vibrant destination booth was a hub of activity as Antigua and Barbuda tourism officials conducted a series of one-on-one meetings, and media interviews.
In its communication to the major cruise lines the destination provided updates to industry partners on the recently announced partnership with Global Port Holdings (GPH) and the Government’s strategic plans to expand the St. John’s Port facilities, to position the destination to take advantage of the growing industry trend towards larger cruise ships.
GPH also used the opportunity to announce its partnership with their two new Caribbean destinations, Antigua and Barbuda and the Bahamas, at a gala reception attended by over 600 cruise industry stakeholders.
Throughout out all meetings, Cruise-line executives reconfirmed their support for the initiative taken by Antigua & Barbuda to improve its infrastructure to offer the best possible service to cruise passengers. This more than anything else will ensure Antigua and Barbuda remains well positioned as a premier cruise destination of choice within the Caribbean, on many of the cruise line itineraries.
A major increase for the destination comes from a Key European cruise line partner TUI Cruises whose new ship the Mein Schiff 2, will increase calls to the destination after an absence of three years. Mein Schiff 2 will visit the destination on its inaugural call on November 6th with a total of 13 calls for season 2019/20 bringing over 37,000 passengers.
Another key Partner Norwegian Cruise Lines will return with the Norwegian “Epic”, a diversion that has now become a permanent port of call, along with the Norwegian “Bliss” in the breakaway plus class. This ship will make its inaugural call on December 9th with over 4,000 passengers.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) one of the Country’s key partners confirmed that larger ships will be serving the destination this upcoming season and we will see an increase to approximately 250,000 passengers this year from its various lines. Antigua and Barbuda continues to record strong customer satisfaction scores of 8.8 out of a maximum of 10 with RCCL guests.
MSC cruise lines the world’s fastest growing cruise line, indicated Antigua is and will continue to be a key port of call as the company has ten new ships on order and will be increasing its fleet to twenty-nine ships with the delivery of one new ship per year up to 2027.
In a joint meeting with representatives for all the Carnival Corporation Cruise Lines the commitment was given at the highest level by all the attendee member lines to continue to work together with Antigua and Barbuda to our mutual benefit.
The Country’s presence at Seatrade also facilitates local stakeholder partners meeting with cruise line executives to increase their tours and excursion business. Local partners included Wadadli Cats, South American Ventures Ltd, The Rendezvous Company and Tropical Adventures.
Minister of Tourism the Hon. Charles Fernandez in all meetings thanked our cruise line partners for their support over the years and reconfirmed Antigua and Barbuda’s commitment to working with all partners for win-win outcomes, as the country continues on its development path, to become a premier port of call for all cruise lines visiting the Caribbean. “The Industry leaders have reported that 2018 was the best year for profitability and have forecasted that, with a record orderbook for 70 new ships over the next three years and a record 25 million set to cruise in 2019, the Caribbean continues to be the world’s number one cruising destination. The renewed focus on improving our infrastructure by the Government has now positioned the destination to increase its share of this business” said Minister Fernandez.