JAM | May 23, 2023

Jamaica riding high with surging cruise passenger numbers

/ Our Today

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Durrant Pate/Contributor

Jamaica is currently basking in glory from its surging cruise passenger numbers, which continues to grow with 2023 shaping up to be another record year for the Caribbean destination.

The island’s tourism industry is booming, driven by the high number of cruise arrivals in the island. The destination has welcomed over 1.5 million vacationers, an achievement that has exceeded even the most ambitious forecasts with over 300,000 cruise passengers arriving in just the first two months of the year.

Cruise Hive is reporting that with the cruise sector’s continued growth, Jamaica seems well on its way to surpass the 800,000 cruise visitors it hosted in 2022. The impressive visitor numbers of early 2023, hint that Jamaica could be on track to challenge its record-setting 2018 cruise season.

Cruise ships calls so far

According to the blog that year saw 551 cruise ship calls and 1.8 million cruise arrivals. While that record may be challenging to beat, the projected passenger numbers for 2023, 1.4 million, suggest that the island is at least on track to reach the 2019 numbers.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett reports that between January 1 and May 10, Jamaica received 1,586,303 total visitors, stopover and cruise, earning US$1.69 billion, putting Jamaica on par with 2019 record figures.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, addresses journalists at a media briefing, held at Gordon House in downtown Kingston, on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. (Photo: JIS)

 “We have seen steady growth in our arrivals and continued investment in the tourism sector, which is a tremendous achievement,” the tourism minister proclaimed.

These visitor numbers are a remarkable increase from the 49,870 cruise guests the island nation received during the same period in 2022. Strategic partnerships with prominent cruise lines, infrastructure improvements, and innovative tourism strategies have all been instrumental in the busy start to the year. 

Jamaica is a popular destination for cruise ships such as Disney Magic, Symphony Of The Seas, Odyssey Of The Seas, Celebrity Beyond, Carnival Vista, AIDAdiva, MSC Seascape, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Prima, and Seven Seas Navigator, which are scheduled to make regular calls to Jamaica this year. At the same time, Jamaica has multiple ports capable of accommodating cruise ships.

These include Ocho Rios, the largest cruise port on the island’s north coast and Port Royal, the entry point to Kingston, Jamaica’s capital. There is Port Antonio, a smaller port popular with ultra-luxury cruise ships; Falmouth, widely recognised as a popular cruise destination, and Montego Bay ranks as the country’s second-largest cruise port.

Cruise tourism and economic growth

Cruise Hive has emphasised that of particular importance to the growth and strong return of Jamaica are Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International. Royal Caribbean has listed Jamaica as a first-call destination and has pledged to increase the number of ships visiting the island this year, most notably several Oasis-class and Quantum Ultra-class ships.

The ‘Emerald Princess’ docked in Falmouth, Trelawny on Sunday, November 14, 2021. (Photo: Facebook @PortAuthorityJA)

The cruise line also has a training partnership with the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), which has resulted in more Jamaicans finding work onboard ships. Carnival Cruise Line has four ships that make regular calls to the island, and has pledged to continue using Jamaica as a premier destination.

At the same time, a rising interest in designating Jamaica as a homeport shows another positive trend. For instance, AIDA Cruises maintains Montego Bay as its homeport, and there’s also discussion about making Port Royal a homeport for a second ship.

Cruise Hive was established back in 2008 and is among the earliest blogs in the industry.


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