Barbados has correlated data from the 2022-2023 cruise season, showing a strong recovery with more than 85% of passengers and cruise ship visits compared to the 2018-2019 season prior to the industry-wide shutdown.
This is a promising result considering travel restrictions were still in play for part of the season, and projections show Barbados may have a record-breaking 2023-2024 season.
Barbados Ends Strong 2023 Season
The tourism organization Cruise Barbados has announced excellent recovery numbers for the 2022-2023 cruise season, which ran from October 2022 through April 2023.
In total, 625,847 total cruise passengers visited the Caribbean nation, brought to Barbados by 362 port of call visits from more than 25 cruise lines. This represents 86% of the totals seen during the 2018-2019 cruise season (726,028 passengers over 384 ship calls), the most recent year for which full, unrestricted cruise travel was permitted.
“We are grateful to witness this remarkable level of recovery after years of struggle throughout the pandemic,” said Tia Broomes, Cruise Barbados’ Senior Business Development Officer. “It has emboldened us to emerge stronger than ever before, steadfastly building a brighter future.”
Barbados only dropped its final COVID-19 travel restrictions in September 2022, removing all entry requirements for visitors. This eliminated the vaccination and testing requirements that had made it challenging for cruise lines to keep the port of call on various itineraries, due to the timing of testing windows and the nation’s distance from major homeports.
Next Season to Be Even Better
The encouraging numbers for the 2022-2023 season bode well for even more visitors when the next Barbados season begins in just two months. Local authorities are projecting a record-breaking year for the 2023-2024 cruise season, with more than 741,000 guests expected across 407 cruise calls.
“With more than 25 major cruise lines calling to the Port of Bridgetown, we welcome all vacationers to explore the unforgettable and immersive excursions our island has to offer, including the signature cave experiences, swimming with the turtles, scuba diving, amazing culinary and authentic cultural experiences,” said Broomes.
Nicknamed “The Gem of the Caribbean,” Barbados offers a wide range of amazing options for visitors to enjoy, from natural beauty to distinctive culinary tastes to a unique cultural flair.
Various cultural festivals, including the Barbados Food and Rum Festival (every October) and the Barbados Reggae Festival (late April) give cruise guests even more amazing opportunities to enjoy the island’s unique flair, depending on cruise itineraries.
Cruising to Barbados
Bridgetown, on the island’s southwestern coast, is the largest city and only passenger cruise port. The vibrant city is often part of far eastern or southern Caribbean sailings, as well as occasional more exotic itineraries such as world cruises from both major cruise lines as well as smaller luxury lines and expedition sailings.
During the 2023-2024 cruise season, cruise lines that have planned visits to Barbados include Carnival Cruise Line, TUI Cruises, P&O Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, and more.
It should be noted that some cruise lines do visit Barbados outside the typical winter cruise season, but options for cruise travelers are much more limited. For example, in May 2023 there were just three cruise ship visits for the entire month – Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic, MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina, and Atlas Ocean Voyages’ World Traveller.
In contrast, the month before – the end of the official season in April 2023 when cruise traffic was already slowing – there were more than 30 visits from more than 10 different cruise lines, including overnight calls.