World’s Largest Cruise Ship Makes Maiden Call to US Virgin Islands

Icon of the Seas' maiden call to St. Thomas and the signing of key agreements cement the island's future in cruising.

Icon of the Seas continues to create excitement everywhere she sails. As she makes her way around the Eastern Caribbean, the world’s largest cruise ship continues to amaze those who first set eyes on her, including those on the US Virgin Islands on January 31. 

After Basseterre, St Kitts, it was the turn of St. Thomas to welcome Icon of the Seas during the ship’s maiden even-day cruise. The vessel was welcomed by several dignitaries, including the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands and port authority officials, as the Virgin Islands simultaneously signed an agreement with Royal Caribbean that will secure the island’s cruising future. 

Icon of the Seas Welcomed to St. Thomas

The excitement surrounding Icon of the Seas remains high as the ship sails around the eastern Caribbean. After sailing from Port Miami on January 27, spending two days at sea, followed by her maiden call to St Kitts, the world’s largest cruise ship made her way to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands on January 31. 

The second port call for the ship to St. Thomas has been anticipated by the locals, showcased by the welcome icon received as she sailed into the Austin Monsanto Marine Terminal in Crown Bay, St. Thomas, around 05:30 AM on Wednesday. The 250,800 gross tons Icon of the Seas dwarfed Celebrity Apex docked next to her, 

Icon of the Seas in St. Thomas, USVI
Icon of the Seas in St. Thomas, USVI (Photo Credit: Virgin Islands Port Authority)

Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Honorable Albert Bryan Jr., Port Authority officials, and private sector officials were on hand to welcome 4,971 guests lucky enough to be onboard for the maiden voyage. In port, guests were welcomed by performers on stilt and traditional Caribbean music.

Icon of the Seas remained in St. Thomas until just before 3 PM and is now heading to Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island resort, which recently featured in a vlog by YouTube sensation MrBeast. She will arrive here on February 2, and return to PortMiami on February 3.

While the arrival of Icon of the Seas was the highlight of the day, the US Virgin Islands had more reasons to celebrate, as the cruise destination’s future was secured with three agreements with major industry stakeholders.

St. Thomas Feature in Cruises Secured

Bringing in cruise ships such as Icon of the Seas is a major investment in time and strategy for cruise destinations. Not only are these visits important economic factors, as they bring in millions of dollars each year in revenue for local businesses. They also solidify the destination’s reputation as a premier spot for cruise tourism. 

On the same day as the maiden call by Icon of the Seas, the U.S. Virgin Islands signed three pivotal agreements involving the Virgin Islands Port Authority, Royal Caribbean Group, and Cruise Terminals International (CTI). These agreements are set to transform the territory’s cruise industry and cement its status as a leading cruise destination in the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship in US Virgin Islands
Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship in US Virgin Islands (Photo Credit: Ruth Peterkin)

Carlton Dowe, the Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Port Authority: “It’s a bright day for the Virgin Islands. We are proud to welcome the newest and most innovative ships in the cruise industry to St. Thomas, while simultaneously securing the Virgin Island’s future as a sought-after cruise destination through improvements that continue to bring the latest generation of ships to our shores.”

“We will continue to welcome Icon of the Seas, her guests, and crew to St. Thomas as they experience the beauty and hospitality of the Virgin Islands.”

Total Of Three Agreements Signed

The first agreement extends the existing Memorandum of Understanding between the Port Authority, Royal Caribbean, and CTI, which includes the development of the Crown Bay District, including the Austin Babe Monsanto Marine Facility and Crown Bay Center in St. Thomas.

Additionally, an addendum to the 10-year Piers Usage Agreement with Royal Caribbean Group introduces a Capital Cost Recovery Charge. This charge will facilitate the Crown Bay District Upland Development Project in St. Thomas, which includes predevelopment work for a third cruise ship dock. 

The charge will also support improvements in St. Croix, allowing a wider range of cruise ships to dock on the island.

The third agreement, a Pre-Development Agreement between the Port Authority and CTI, outlines the predevelopment work required for the Crown Bay District in St. Thomas. This agreement lays the groundwork for future enhancements that will attract more cruise ships and visitors to the island.

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