The Cruise Industry within Antigua & Barbuda has received a rejuvenated focus, as Government has made it a key part of its destination strategy to position Antigua and Barbuda as the marquee destination within the Eastern Caribbean for cruise visitors across all cruise-line partners. This is to be achieved by continuing the efforts to improve and diversify the islands’ tourism product to enhance the visitor experience on island and to ensure the cruise lines increase their calls to the destination.
To ensure this becomes reality, the St. John’s Development Corporation has avidly begun a process to regenerate the port facilities, heritage sites, land-based facilities, shopping, transportation services, and taxi services throughout the surrounding St. John’s City environs. The first phase of the rejuvenation of the City of St. John’s started with the St. John’s Harbour, which has been swept and swept and successfully dredged to accommodate larger cruise vessels. The news that the dredging project was completed in record time - a matter of months after the new administration took office - was well received by cruise-line partners throughout 2015.
Development plans for St. John’s Harbour also include the extension of the piers to accommodate the larger vessels, along with the construction of an additional pier to enable up to six (6) ships to be berthed simultaneously. The development also comes with the added benefits of new high-end shopping and facilities such as a cruise passenger terminal to position the destination to take advantage of home-porting opportunities.
Antigua and Barbuda is actively pursuing opportunities to be a home port with several European-based cruise lines, in an effort to diversify its cruise ship offerings. With the country’s new international airport capable of handling up to two million passengers a year, the enhanced port facilities would see the destination poised to become a home port where cruise ships can start and end their itineraries in Antigua.
With the dredging completed, and further plans to improve the port facilities are underway, Cruise Industry confidence in the destination of Antigua and Barbuda has been restored and for the 2015/16 winter season, another four (4) to five (5) new cruise ships will be calling in Antigua for the first time.
New Cruise Lines include:
• P&O Cruise Lines – Brittania
• Aida Cruises - Aida Amar
• Costa Cruises - Costa Favalosa
• Viking River Cruises - Viking Star
• Tui Cruises - Mein. Schiff 3
• Carnival Cruises - Carnival Sunshine
• Norwegian Cruise Lines - Norwegian Breakaway - NCL’s
second largest cruise ship that will be making an inaugural
call to Antigua on January 13, 2016 with 4,500 passengers.
• Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines – Azamara: returns to Antigua
and Barbuda after an absence of five years. Antigua and
Barbuda will have the best cruise season ever for 2015/16 from
RCCL, with passenger arrivals hitting a record at 216,314.
At the end of 2014, the destination recorded 536,055 passengers from 313 cruise ship calls overall. With the new cruise lines to visit this year, the destination is indeed on target to reaching the 700,000 passengers mark by the end of 2015. Cruise Sector Plans for the Future The Government of Antigua has signed a $255 million deal with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) to renovate the island’s main port and harbour. CCECC will modernize the downtown St. John’s port and harbour.
Barbuda, located north of Antigua, is a specially-designated, eco-friendly destination of 61.99 square miles that has implemented a successful approach, similar to other smaller, up-market destination islands, such as St. Barths, where they only allow small cruise ships to berth offshore and tender their passengers to the beach. This is also part of the destination strategy to aggressively market Barbuda to the smaller Cruise Lines. This started successfully with Club Med and now, for the first time, a record 12 cruise ships called to Barbuda for this season. This is a niche market within the cruise sector that is expected to see increased success. Other small luxury cruise ships that call on Barbuda include: Black Watch, Windstar, Wind Surf, and Club Med.