FLORIDA, United States, Saturday October 7, 2017 – Antigua and Barbuda joined with forces with St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia in a series of fact-finding meetings with the region’s major cruise lines and made it clear they were ready for the upcoming cruise season.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Tourism Minister Asot Michael, along with his Kittitian counterpart Lindsay Grant, and Dominic Fedee of St Lucia led a delegation of cruise tourism officials to meet with several Miami-based cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL), Carnival Corporation, and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL).
The meetings’ objective was to share information about the post-hurricane health of the ports and destination and to seek an update from each cruise line on short and medium term alterations to their cruise itineraries.
The Eastern Caribbean destinations verified that they not only collectively had the capacity to fill some short-term berthing gaps caused by the destruction in neighboring ports, but had already put processes in place to ensure that existing berthing booking details are available to each port to ensure that congestion is minimized. The opportunity was also used to update each cruise line on the latest port and cruise facility development and the availability of new services such as fuel bunkering and the possibility for provisioning while in the port of St. John’s.
Michael not only thanked the cruise lines for the confidence they had demonstrated by including additional calls for the destination, but also expressed appreciation for the their efforts in support of hurricane recovery throughout the region, but more so for Barbuda which was devastated by Hurricane Irma and Dominica, which saw widespread damage from Hurricane Maria.
“The collective efforts of our collaboration to work with our cruise line partners show that we are stronger and better when we work together to move forward as one, in the interest of all our destinations. The commitment to our cruise line partners is that we will ensure that we offer a superior product by doing everything necessary to improve the guest experience during their visit with us,” he said.
Areas of significant interest to each cruise line included the availability of new tours and attractions to ensure that adequate shore excursions were available. This would add to the appeal of the new itineraries and ensure strong customer satisfaction scores.
The cruise lines also reinforced the need to work closely and collectively with the destinations to repair the negative perceptions in the market that the entire Caribbean was devastated.
The three Eastern Caribbean destinations agreed to collaborate with the cruise lines in an effort to have key influencers and travel bloggers cruise to each destination to share firsthand positive images and messages that the Caribbean is indeed open for business and offers a first class experience to its cruise guests.