ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Tourism officials on Tuesday promised a better cruise season in 2013 with the return of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) during the traditionally slow summer period.
The industry expects 29 calls or 72,500 passengers by Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas, which replaces Serenade of the Seas that pulled out of the Caribbean last year.
Announcing the “good news,” Chief Executive Officer of the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority Colin James said RCCL was persuaded to return during ongoing “lobbying efforts.”
“I think this is excellent news for the destination because in the summer months things really dry up and it makes it very difficult for the key tourism partners on island to sustain their business during the summer month,” James said during a news conference.
“It is good news for our destination and we are really pleased that the lobbying effort has borne fruit,” he added.
A delegation led by Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture John Maginley met with RCCL and other cruise companies in Miami in recent weeks.
In a release, Maginley said the objectives of the Miami meetings were met.
“This was our focus so as to ensure that the many businesses in Heritage and Redcliffe quay, in addition to other stakeholders such as vendors, taxi drivers, and tour operators have a sustainable income throughout the entire year.
“I am delighted to report that our hard work and effort have now paid off for the people of Antigua & Barbuda with 29 additional cruise ship calls starting next summer 2013,” the minister said.
The vessel will visit three times a month during the summer period from May to October 2013 and will remain for the 2013-2014 winter season.
The news comes as more cruise lines are being diverted from the Caribbean to other destinations such as Europe.
Just over 600,000 passengers are expected during the next cruise season.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)