St Lucia holidays ranked among the Top Cruise holiday destinations in the Caribbean
Even when facing fierce competition from top Caribbean cruise holiday destinations such as Barbados and the Bahamas, it looks like St Lucia's cruise industry's stepping up to the challenge and is on the road to becoming cruise-tastic!
Even though a late bloomer, St Lucia holidays have been enjoying a steady growth over the last couple of years in the cruise line industry, now putting it in direct competition to other old favourites cruise destinations in the Caribbean, like Barbados and the Bahamas. It was the year 2007 which marked the beginning of major growth in St Lucia’s cruise industry. That very same year, Port Castries recorded the highest number of passengers ever in a single year, 70 % more than the previous year. Ever since, the Port has been able to sustain this growth each year surpassing the previous year’s performance. In 2009, Port Castries welcomed almost 700,000 cruise passengers the highest number ever in the history of the Port.
Such an increase was no accident but a consequence of the strategic efforts put together by the St Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) together with the Ministry of Tourism and private sector partners which implemented effective marketing strategies to the cruise lines throughout the last few years. Cruising St Lucia holidays have ever since become one of the best performing cruise holiday destinations in the Southern Caribbean. In 2009, St Lucia ranked 2nd in the Eastern Caribbean (and Barbados) with only Antigua surpassing St Lucia’s cruise arrivals by 2 %. For the 2010/11 cruise season however, SLAPSA expects a decline of 14 % when compared to last year's cruise season still remaining above the 600,000 cruise passenger mark. Despite this decline, Port Castries expects to see increased traffic for Celebrity, Holland America, P&O, Cunard and luxury liner SilverSea Cruises. The projected decline is largely as a result of the redeployment of three lines i.e. Aida, Costa and Pullmantur Cruises, while a fourth line Ocean Village cruise line is no longer in operation. Both Aida Cruises and Costa Cruises are expected to return to the island in the 2012/13 cruise season.
“It is quite normal that every two years cruise lines change their deployment patterns, SLASPA together with the Ministry of Tourism and local private sector continue to work towards the strengthening of St Lucia’s product to ensure that the island remains a leading cruise destination. We also recognize the significant economic contribution of the cruise sector and therefore we do not focus exclusively on the quantity of passengers also quality passengers. In this regard, we are quite pleased that we have retained our major year-round calls with brands such as Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International and the return of lines such a Silversea Cruises which is known as one of the luxury brands” said Dona Regis, Director of Marketing and Product Development, SLASPA.
Among the other Cruises lines expected to call St Lucia holidays this coming season are: Princess Cruises, Thompson Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Fred Olsen and Seabourn.
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