St. Kitts and Nevis are bracing for an unprecedented surge in cruise tourism as the islands prepare for 342 cruise ship calls during the upcoming winter cruise season.
St Kitts and Nevis are confirming their position as one of the most popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean. With the expected call of the upcoming biggest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, in January 2024, and the increase in luxury cruise ships expected to arrive in the coming months, cruise tourism is booming in St. Kitts.
A New Era of Cruise Tourism
In the heart of the Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis prepares for a bustling winter cruise season, with expectations set high with 342 cruise ship calls, marking a significant uptick for the island’s tourism sector.
A highlight of the season will undoubtedly be the arrival of Icon of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, during its maiden voyage. The Icon-class cruise ship completed its second set of sea trials this week. With a maximum passenger capacity of 7,600, the arrival of the 250,800 gross tons cruise ship marks a milestone for the island’s tourism industry.
Tourism Minister Martha Henderson: “For the upcoming season, we will welcome a total of 342 cruise calls, promising an influx of visitors yearning to explore the wonders of our island and our paradise, notably, we eagerly await the arrival of the magnificent ‘Icon of the Seas’, the largest ship in the world.”
The cruise industry is a significant economic contributor to St. Kitts and Nevis, bringing in 149 million in 2017/2018, a number which has been growing since. This figure reflects not only the direct income from the cruise ships but also the broader economic impact on the local economy, such as cruise passengers shopping locally, provisioning, and tours for cruise ship passengers.
A 2018 report states that every $1 million in direct cruise tourism expenditures generated 14 jobs throughout the local economy, paying an average annual wage of about US $8,500.
However, it’s not just the bigger cruise hips that are making an impact in St. Kitts and Nevis. In recent years, a greater number of luxury cruise ships have been visiting the islands, bringing in new revenue streams, and diversifying the cruise landscape.
“We have also observed an increase in luxury vessels and the presence of such luxury vessels signifies the greater spending power on the island, cementing our position as a premier tourist destination,” Minister Henderson said.
Diverse Range of Cruise Ship Visits
While St. Kitts sees a greater range of large to very large cruise ship arrivals, Nevis is increasingly popular with smaller, luxury cruise ships.
Through the end of December, the smaller island will see the arrival of a range of cruise ships from Windstar and Seadream, but also vessels like Regent’s Seven Seas Navigator, Azamara Journey, and Saga Cruises Spirit Of Adventure.
However, it’s Basseterre, St. Kitts, where the majority of cruise ship passengers will sail. In November, a total of 35 cruise ship calls will be made to Basseterre. In December, as the winter cruise season in the Caribbean starts going into high gear, that number will grow to 56 cruise ship calls, and for January, the island will welcome even more ships with 63 scheduled calls.
St. Kitts and Nevis illustrates the economic advantages of an island known for embracing cruise tourism, in line with the expanding popularity of the cruise industry.