With the official launch of the cruise season in T&T, a 5,800-passenger vessel is expected to grace these shores soon.According to Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell the country will see the arrival of a total of 71 cruise calls; 21 will be in Port-of-Spain and four of those will be inaugural sailings.
“It will include a massive 5,800-passenger MSC Seashore to dock right here,” Mitchell explained.
The minister was speaking at the official launch of the 2022/2023 cruise ship season held at the Cruise Ship Complex, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
Mitchell said 17 calls are expected from the Royal Caribbean Group and he hopes each will be more memorable than the last.After 20 years, Royal Caribbean returned to Trinidad with the Rhapsody of the Seas being the first cruise ship to visit in two years.
Saying he is thrilled by the return of cruise ships to T&T, Mitchell said the Government has been working with the operators to regain momentum which had been lost following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are extremely excited. I think the cruise lines and the cruise industry are even more excited than us in terms of building back the cruise industry after the COVID-19 pandemic. “We constantly work with them in partnership with many of the cruise lines, in particular, this one which is owned by the Royal Caribbean group,” Mitchell added.
The cruise line has had a strong connection with this country with many locals working onboard. Around 2,000 people from T&T were employed by the Royal Caribbean in June following recruitment. Regarding the health protocols, Mitchell said his ministry has worked closely with the Ministry of Health, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) and the cruise industry, to ensure measures are in place.
“When there is an outbreak of COVID or any sickness onboard, the ships are now able to treat with outbreaks, so they do not have to take anybody ashore unless the passenger is seriously ill.
“The entire cruise industry has put new health protocols in place to ensure destinations and citizens are safe if there are any outbreaks,” Mitchell reiterated.
Tourism Trinidad Ltd CEO Carla Cupid, who also spoke, said its plans to develop cruise tourism falls into the category of a “marathon rather than a sprint.
“What that means is that getting a cruise line to come to any destination requires strategic conversations with executives who are no doubt hearing the same conversations from representatives like us from other islands or even other countries because the space in which we compete has become so much smaller,” she explained.
In detailing strides made during the year Cupid said participation in conferences like the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association and Seatrade is important in taking the industry to the next step. “Their guests or passengers, post-COVID are looking for a more authentic, engaging, and most importantly culturally rich experience,” Cupid added.