Caribbean Cruise Destination Goes Over 1 Million Passengers

Cruise tourism in the Cayman Islands is on track for returning to pre-pandemic numbers, including over a million cruise passengers.

The Cayman Islands crushed its tourism goal for 2023! After a return to cruise tourism in March of 2022, the western Caribbean cruise destination set a goal to reach 70% of 2019’s pre-pandemic visitor numbers in 2023, which equates to about 1.2 million cruise passengers. 

With over 1 million cruisers sailing to the popular destination in 11 months during 2023, it’s safe to say that not only did the Cayman Islands meet its goal, but it has successfully rebounded from the COVID-19 closures.

Cayman Island Cruise Tourism Grew Significantly in 2023

2022 exceeded cruise visitor expectations in the Cayman Islands. November 2023 has set the bar even higher, bringing the number of annual cruise visitors back to numbers the Caribbean destination hasn’t seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the travel industry.

For the first time since 2019, more than 1 million cruise ship passengers visited the islands through November 2023, meeting the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism’s goal of welcoming at least 1.2 million cruisers to the islands in 2023.

This is back in line with pre-pandemic numbers when approximately 1.4 million cruise passengers visited Grand Cayman annually. 

In 2022, cruise tourism exceeded expectations, with 743,394 cruise passengers visiting the islands by the end of the year. This was particularly impressive considering the islands banned cruise ships until March of 2022 due to remaining health and safety measures carried over from the pandemic.

Cruise Ships at Grand Cayman
Photo Credit: Feng Cheng / Shutterstock

The growth seen by the Cayman Islands is also reflected throughout the Caribbean and will likely help push the momentum into 2024. Throughout 2023, cruise arrivals nearly doubled for the US Virgin Islands, with more than 1 million cruisers also visiting St. Thomas. 

At the same time, the Dominican Republic experienced a record number of visitors in 2023. In December 2023 alone, the Caribbean port welcomed hundreds of thousands of cruisers across 104 ships.

Meanwhile, in the Bahamas, Nassau broke its all-time record for the most cruise passengers to visit the island in a single year. The previous record of 3,859,183 travelers was set in 2019. However, the port broke the record by November of 2023 with a count of 3,869,003 passengers. 

The Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Territory that encompasses three islands in the Western Caribbean Sea. Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands is one of the most popular cruise ports on the western Caribbean cruise route and home to the capital, George Town. 

There is no shortage of cruises sailing to Grand Cayman in 2024. Disney Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, and Royal Caribbean all offer itineraries from January 2024 through the entire year.

Cruise Ships in Grand Cayman
Photo Credit: Tony Quinn / Shutterstock

Two of the five ships in Disney’s fleet are slated to visit the islands beginning in January 2024. Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy will be sailing to the islands as part of five-night and seven-night Western Caribbean Cruises, respectively.

Read Also: Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman – Things to Know

Carnival also has multiple ships stopping by beginning in January 2024, including Carnival Glory, Carnival Sunrise, Carnival Pride, and Carnival Paradise. The cruise line is offering five to seven-night Western Caribbean cruises. Depending on the ship, some also sail to Panama and Mexico. 

Like Disney and Carnival, Celebrity Cruises will also be a frequent visitor of Grand Cayman. Celebrity Ascent, Celebrity Apex, Celebrity Beyond, and Celebrity Constellation will all be calling on the island in early 2024 as part of seven to 12-night Caribbean sailings.

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