Caribbean Island Moves Closer to Enforcing One Ship Policy

Bonaire is closer to enacting a one-ship policy to reduce the number of cruise ships docking at the Caribbean island.

Bonaire, an island that is part of the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean, is a popular tourist destination that has seen significant growth in cruise ship and passenger visits in recent years.

According to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the island received 458,000 cruise passengers in 2019, an increase of 322 percent compared to 2013. 

However, the island is now looking to control the number of visitors through a “One Ship Policy.” This policy aims to provide a better experience for both the residents of Bonaire and the cruise tourists visiting the island while limiting the number of cruise ships allowed to dock at any one time. 

Bonaire to Improve Island Experience with One Ship Policy

Bonaire has decided to enforce its “One Ship Policy” to handle the growing number of visitors to the island and to improve the overall experience of their visit to the island. With a maximum of one large cruise ship allowed per day, Bonaire hopes to spread out visitors and provide better services to both cruise ship passengers and residents. 

The policy will also relieve the pressure on the island’s infrastructure, making it possible for entrepreneurs to offer more services to visitors and for cargo ships to serve the island’s growing population better.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship in Bonaire
Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship in Bonaire (Photo Credit: StephanKogelman / Shutterstock)

Bonaire Commissioner Hennyson Thielman: “With this course, the added value for cruise tourism on Bonaire is improved, contributing to repeat visits and more money spent per tourist. There is also more space for freight transport for the necessary delivery of goods for Bonaire.” 

“This results in a more pleasant and safer environment in and around the port of Bonaire, a better touristic image of Bonaire, and availability of goods for businesses and residents of Bonaire.”

Read Also: 10 Best Western Caribbean Cruise Ports You Should Visit

The “One Ship Policy” was introduced last year as part of Bonaire’s effort to recover its tourism industry. However, despite the policy, the island is still hosting two cruise ships at a time due to pre-existing contracts that cannot be altered. 

Starting in mid-April, Bonaire will enforce its policy and welcome one large cruise ship per day, except for smaller vessels with fewer than 700 passengers. The island is also revising the guidelines and standards for port reservations to better align with its aim for sustainable and high-quality tourism.

Encouraging Low-Season Visits from Cruise Lines

The “One Ship Policy” was introduced as a part of Bonaire’s Tourism Recovery Plan, and it’s expected to have the most significant impact on major cruise companies like Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival.

Bonaire, Caribbean

These companies operate larger ships, and as a result, Bonaire is encouraging them to visit the island during the off-season by offering incentives.

This will enable Bonaire to keep visitor numbers up while spreading them throughout the year. Recently, the island already welcomed a delegation from Carnival Cruise Line onboard Carnival Horizon to discuss its vision for tourism. 

Bonaire is moving closer to high-quality, low-impact tourism, a policy that is embraced globally as locals increasingly push back against the increasing number of cruise ships visiting ports. With this in mind, it is likely that other countries will also start implementing policies similar to Bonaire’s in the future.


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