March 31, 2005 Cruise ship arrivals will be down this summer over previous years because several ships are going elsewhere, the West Indian Co. Ltd. announced Thursday via press release.
"We learned from Seatrade that the Asian market is opening up big time," WICO director of dock operations, Alfred Lloyd, said Thursday.
However, Lloyd said he expects other ships will fill the slots left by the departing ships.
"The Caribbean will always remain the big draw," he said.
He said that Caribbean cruising attracts so many passengers from the mainland because it is close to home. Passengers can board at mainland ports like New York, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, spend a day at sea, and arrive quickly in the Caribbean.
Lloyd also said that cruising is still an expanding market because only 19 percent of Americans have ever taken a cruise vacation.
The Tourism Department's director of marketing, Steve Bornn, said Thursday, that while the department does not market directly to potential cruise ship passengers, it markets to the cruise lines.
"When we advertise in trade magazines for cruise lines, it is to develop an itinerary that includes the Virgin Islands," he said.
He also said that the department has been pushing St. Croix as a port.
According to Bornn, cruise ship passengers don't book a ship based on its specific itinerary, but rather the timing, the ship and the cost.
Lloyd said that the cruise ship Century is going to Asia and will not return to the Caribbean. It will make its last call on May 3.
Additionally, Lloyd said that a Celebrity ship he was not sure which one – is also headed east.
The Disney Magic will set sail for the west coast of the United States after its last call on May 4 to help celebrate Disneyland's 50th anniversary. It will call again on St. Thomas starting Sept. 7.
The Golden Princess will spend the summer in Europe, returning to St. Thomas on Nov. 4.
According to the press release, May will see 42 ship visits. In June, cruise ships will call 32 times. July has 29 ship visits, August, 32, and September, 30.
The Cruise Ship Activities Office's Web site, www.ships.vi, indicates that in 2004 41 cruise ships called in May, 44 in June, 40 in July, 42 in August. Clicking on September gave an error message.
WICO officials expect to meet with the cruise lines in June to finalize the 2005-2006 schedule. It will be made public on Aug. 1.
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