From Martinique to Puerto Rico, Caribbean Cruise Industry Seeing Big Gains


By Alexander Britell

FORT LAUDERDALE — The world’s largest cruise industry conference had a strong Caribbean flavor this week as ports from across the region gathered for the annual Seatrade summit in Fort Lauderdale.

The mood was a positive one, with the region’s top ports reporting rapid growth and putting last year’s storms in the rear-view mirror.

That included destinations from Puerto Rico, which is actually projecting a record number of cruise visitors this year, to fast-growing Martinique, which is experiencing dynamic growth in passenger arrivals in the 2017-2018 season.

Old San Juan.

“The cruise industry is at the forefront of our recovery efforts,” acting director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Carla Campos, told Caribbean Journal. “The cruise industry took a leadership role [after the hurricanes] that other sectors didn’t take as aggressively.”

Indeed, Puerto Rico is projecting a record 1.8 million passengers for the upcoming 2018-2019 cruise season, far eclipsing the destination’s previous record of 1.5 million passengers.

“So we’re not just coming back in the short term,” she said. “We’re set to break some records.”

That was true for the region as a whole, with more than 27 million cruise passenger arrivals in 2017 in the Caribbean, a new high for the region, according to data from the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

That represented a 2.4 percent increase compared to 2016.

This year’s Seatrade is welcoming more than 11,000 cruise industry professionals from around the world.

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