Above: Guatemala’s Santo Tomas de Castilla Port
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Quietly, a new player has begun to emerge in the Caribbean cruise industry: Guatemala.
The Central American country has received almost 220,000 cruise passengers in the last few years, focused at the country’s Santo Tomas de Castilla Port on the Caribbean coast.
The country is projected to see a 5 percent increase in cruise arrivals for the 2014/2015 season, according to data from the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association as well.
“A large part of our work has been focused on the promotion of this sector by strengthening our infrastructure and increasing our offshore offering,” said Pedro Duchez, director of INGUAT, the country’s tourist board.
It’s also been a boon to the country’s stayover arrivals, the tourist board says, with around 70 percent of cruise visitors lured back for a longer stay.
The country also has as Pacific port, the Port of Quetzal, which offers visits to the old city of Antigua and the beaches of Monterrico, among other attractions.
Among the cruise lines that already sail to Guatemala include Carnival, Azamara, Celebrity, Holland America, Regent, Oceania and Royal Caribbean.
In the 2013-2014 season, the country received 69 arrivals totaling 80,864 passengers, the vast majority of whom came from the United States and Canada.