AFTER an absence of almost a decade, Royal Caribbean Cruises will be returning to Trinidad and Tobago’s shores as part of its 2021/2022 cruise season.
In a press release on Friday, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts stated that the decision to include T&T back on the world’s second-largest cruise firm itinerary came after discussion between Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell and shipping agent and principals of Royal Caribbean Charles Carvalho.
Discussions were held back in November 2018 at the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA) Conference and Trade Show. The conference and tradeshow hosts key decision makers in the cruise industry and is key to attracting new cruise lines as confirmation of itineraries and ports of call can take up to three years in some cases.
Mitchell said, “We’re excited our destination is once again on the itinerary of Royal Caribbean International. These itineraries are planned years in advance. Both our islands are beautiful, warm and welcoming with a few undiscovered gems along the way. Now, passengers using Royal Caribbean International will experience them once again, and we will prepare to heavily incorporate our distinct and rich culture in our offerings to distinguish our destination from our Caribbean neighbours.”
He added, “This development is certainly an encouraging one, and while it remains conditional on the re-opening of our borders and the decision to recommence receiving cruise ships, it shows continued interest in destinations Trinidad and Tobago.”
Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas has forecasted its return to the ports of Port-of-Spain and Scarborough as part of their Southern Caribbean itinerary.
Among the deals from Royal Caribbean International to those ports are a seven Southern Caribbean Island Hop and a seven Southern Caribbean Adventure.
The tourism ministry stated that health protocols were already being developed for the tourism industry in preparation for re-opening of borders.
The ministry stated that over 91,000 cruise passengers came to Trinidad and Tobago in 2019. This figure reflects an increase over the previous years, except for 2018 which was an unusual year due to the closure of several regional ports because of the hurricane season. Despite this, the figures for that year showed that Trinidad and Tobago had unusually high numbers.
Before Covid-19, the cruise industry was the fastest growing segment of the worldwide leisure travel market and demand had increased by close to 21% in the past five years. According to industry data, cruise passengers were willing to spend more on activities such as beach tours, off-road/scenic tours or in duty-free shopping on many island nations, the ministry added.