FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (March 9, 2018)-Antigua and Barbuda’s placement as a strategic destination in the various itineraries of the world’s top cruise lines, was at the top of the agenda for a series of high-level one-on-one meetings in direct support of the Government’s pledge to expand and sustain Antigua and Barbuda’s cruise sector at the Seatrade Cruise Global Tradeshow, held in Florida from March 5 – 8, 2018.
Antigua and Barbuda’s delegation consisting of officials from the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority, St John’s Development Corporation and private sector industry partners made the case to grow overall tourism; particularly in the extension of the cruise tourism season. The focus of discussions and negotiations with cruise line executives was to increase destination calls, explore new marketing opportunities as well as the reinforcement of traditional ones.
Team Antigua and Barbuda also used the event to update the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and individual cruise lines on the investment in upgrading the cruise infrastructure. The advent of the fifth and sixth berths will allow for increased competitiveness, giving the destination the ability to accommodate the largest class of cruise ships being built, and providing passengers with an enhanced visitor shore experience.
Antigua and Barbuda’s delegation was supported in these technical discussions by the President of Meridian Construction, whose company a year and a half ago completed the work on the extension of the Heritage Quay pier and; architects Moffat and Nichols, who have a notable track record and are well known in cruise industry. Both companies will be involved in the US$30 million project for the 5th berth. This will be ready by end October, in time for the start of the 2018/2019 cruise season and will allow Antigua and Barbuda to welcome the largest ships in the world.
The delegation assured the cruise executives that guests to our shores will experience the very best that we have to offer in a safe, welcoming and entertaining environment filled with exciting new shore excursion options and authentic destination experiences.
CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Colin C. James reiterated the Government’s support of the industry noting the tangible investment in infrastructure in the Port of St Johns. “This will ensure continued partnership and growth in the development of mutually profitable relationships with the many cruise lines that call on Antigua and Barbuda” said James.
Port Manager Darwin Telemaque also used the opportunity to highlight the latest upgrade to the commercial port and the growth of the bunkering fuel service which is now been offered to several cruise lines. This, he noted, gives Antigua and Barbuda another compelling reason to be included on the Eastern Caribbean itineraries.
In a meeting with Carnival Cruise line’s Senior Manager, Itinerary Strategy and Planning – Commercial Planning Ugo Savino, Savino stated that the position of Antigua and Barbuda lends itself to increased inclusion on future 8-day itinerary planning, and he confirmed 5 additional calls for the destination in the immediate future. In response, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Operations Manager Donyelle Bird-Browne expressed appreciation saying that, “Tourism is a priority for Antigua and Barbuda and our cruise partners play a significant role in that priority”.
In a meeting with Federico Gonzalez-Denton Associate Vice President Government Relations Latin America, Caribbean and South Florida for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, the Cruise Executive commented that, “You are doing all the right things and you are remaining extremely competitive. I congratulate you.” He then confirmed that RCCL will be sending eighty-two calls to the destination for the next season.
Meetings with Crystal Cruises, MSC, Holland America, Princess and Seaborne were also productive. Antigua and Barbuda’s Seatrade Cruise Global 2018 participation culminated with positive news for the destination, which is necessary to continue the momentum in growing cruise tourism for Antigua and Barbuda.