Caribbean Cruise Port Expects Record Visitor Numbers This Winter

Popular cruise destination Antigua expects record cruise arrivals this winter, including the first Excel-class cruise ship to homeport on the island.

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A guest favorite amongst many cruise ship visitors, Antigua is proving to be more popular than ever. For the upcoming winter Caribbean cruise season, the port expects a record number of cruise ships and visitors to the island. 

This season will also be the first time that P&O Cruises’ newest cruise ship, Arvia, will homeport in Antigua, the first time an Excel-class cruise ship homeports in the Caribbean island. 

With its easy-going vibe, a wealth of different restaurants and bars, a casino nearby the port, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, Antigua has always been a top-rated destination for cruise ships. 

Although the island struggled during the global pause in operations, the cruise port expects record numbers of guests and ships in the upcoming 2022-2023 winter cruise season. Between October and December, the period which is typically somewhat quieter, 182,120 cruise ship visitors are expected to arrive in Antigua.

Antigua Cruise Port
Photo Credit: Gerwin Schadl / Shutterstock

From January, record numbers are expected. Seventy-nine cruise ships will visit during the first month of the year, expected to bring 135,810 passengers with them.

Several days will have as many as five cruise ships in port. On January 5, Ambassador Cruise Line’s Ambience, Azamara Onward, Marella Discovery, Silver Dawn, and AidaPerla will visit. 

February seems to become the busiest month, with 101 cruise ships expecting to arrive, featuring one day when seven cruise ships will be in port the same day. Enchanted Princess, Celebrity Millenium, Costa Fascinosa, Celebrity Summit, Sea Dream 2, Viking Sea, and Royal Clipper will bring over 10,000 passengers to St. John on February 21.

Over the entire season, which runs through April 2023, 354 cruise ship calls will be made, bringing 616,419 guests to Antigua. To ensure all these visitors will have a positive experience, the local government has been busy providing free training to all port users, including taxi operators, vendors, tour operators, security officers, restauranteurs, and retailers.

Dona Regis-Prosper, General Manager of Antigua Cruise Port: “We continue to invest in the success of the port community and industry stakeholders. We believe in authentic, open dialogue and see it as our duty to assist everyone; from our colleagues to our tenants to port community members to achieve success. Against this backdrop, we continue to offer complementary training to the port community.”

Excel-class Cruise Ship Homeports in Antigua

This year, Antigua cruise port will also be the homeport for two ships, Star Clipper and P&O Cruises Arvia. It will be the first season an Excel-class cruise ship, the LNG-powered ships owned by Carnival Corporation, will homeport in the Caribbean, outside Florida.

Antigua, Caribbean Cruise port
Photo Credit: byvalet / Shutterstock

“The port will engage in homeporting operations beginning with Star Clipper of Royal Clipper Cruises in December 2022 and continuing with the Arvia, Carnival’s largest cruise vessel from January 2023 until March 2023,” Dona Regis-Prosper continued.

Around 800 guests will be embarking and disembarking the vessel during the Arvia homeport calls, providing a massive boost for local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and taxi operators.

The 5200-guest, 180,000 gross tons Arvia will sail from Antigua on seven-night cruises that conclude in Barbados or 14-night cruises returning to Antigua. Ports of call include Tortola, La Romana, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Martinique, and Castries, St Lucia.

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