Carnival Cruise Ship Makes Maiden Call at Popular Caribbean Port

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On an island known for throwing weeks-long National Carnivals each year, St. Kitts decided to start the party early this year to welcome the inaugural visit of Carnival Venezia. The vessel visited Basseterre on March 8 as part of a 12-night Southern Caribbean Cruise.

Tourism Officials Celebrate Arrival of Carnival Venezia

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Venezia made her first visit to Basseterre in St. Kitts on March 8, an occasion celebrated by tourism officials who hope to expand the island’s appeal to the cruise industry.

“This inaugural cruise call represents the strengthening of our partnership with the Carnival Cruise Line, and it underscores our commitment to providing exceptional experiences for our valued visitors,” said Marsha T. Henderson, Minister of Tourism in St. Kitts. 

Carnival Venezia homeports in New York and departed on March 3, 2024, for a 12-night sailing of the Southern Caribbean. Other stops on this voyage include St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands), Bridgetown (Barbados), Castries (St Lucia), and Philipsburg (St. Maarten). 

“As we venture into deeper and more enriching tour experiences, the arrival of the Carnival Venezia signifies a promising evolution in showcasing the true essence of St. Kitts,” said Melnecia Marshall, deputy CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority. “Our commitment to providing quality tours that allow visitors to connect with our island’s natural and cultural wonders is paramount to our tourism industry’s success.”

Carnival Venezia in St. Kitts
Carnival Venezia in St. Kitts (Photo Credit: SKNIS)

St. Kitts is home to Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, one of the best-maintained stone forts in the Caribbean. First begun by the British in 1690, it is a UNESCO-recognized site that is popular with visitors. The island also is home to volcanic sand beaches, dense rainforests, and stunning snorkeling spots.

Each Christmas season, St. Kitts hosts its famous National Carnival, also known as Sugar Mas, a month-long celebration that highlights the island’s culture and heritage.

Carnival Ship Originally Built for Costa Cruises

Carnival Venezia is the latest ship to make its first stop at St. Kitts. In 2022, Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Wonder of the Seas – then the world’s largest cruise vessel made her inaugural call to the island. The Carnival ship also recently made her inaugural stop in Antigua on February 15, 2024.

The 135,225-gross ton vessel was originally built for Costa Cruises. In spring 2023, she arrived at the Navantia shipyard in Cádiz, Spain, for conversion into the Carnival fleet. Among the amenities added while in drydock were the Carnival Waterworks aqua park, the Piano Bar 88, and the Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse.

Read Also: Jay Leno Named as Godfather for New Carnival Ship

The Vista Class cruise ship has a capacity of 4,208 passengers and maintains an Italian theming throughout the ship. She homeports in New York City, sailing on a variety of 4- to 15-night cruises to destinations such as Bermuda, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Canada, and New England.

Cruise Traffic Rebounding in St. Kitts

Cruise traffic to St. Kitts has climbed steadily since 2010, reaching a peak of 1.1 million and 600 ship visits during the 2018-2019 season. The COVID pandemic took a huge bite of those numbers – only 101,000 cruisers visited in 2021, but the numbers have rebounded to 450,000 in 2022 as the island dropped its travel requirements.

Cruise Ships Docked in St. Kitts
Cruise Ships Docked in St. Kitts (Photo Credit: SKNIS)

Basseterre is the capital and largest city of St. Kitts and neighboring Nevis, with an estimated population of 14,000. One of the oldest towns in the Eastern Caribbean, it was founded in 1627 by the French.

Port Zante is the city’s cruise terminal. It’s located near shopping and dining experiences and can accommodate four cruise ships at once.

St. Kitts serves as a port of call for ships from P&O Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Holland America Line, and Royal Caribbean Cruises among others.

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