Royal Caribbean officials and representatives of the Virgin Islands Port Authority announced a major increase in cruise visits for the Virgin Islands during Seatrade.
Royal Caribbean Group VP Destination Development and Deployment Joshua Carroll, said that RCG will be sending up to 70% more passengers to Crown Bay in St. Thomas and will triple the number of cruise passengers to St. Croix in the coming year.
V.I. Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe said that St. Croix can expect about 140,000 cruise passengers from Royal Caribbean ships next year—from a high of about 50,000-passengers in 2019.
For St. Thomas, Dowe projected the increased total to be about 500,000 passengers. The new agreement also includes a new excursion to St. John, with about 400 passengers per trip.
The government and cruise line officials noted that they will be working together to expand and upgrade the land experience and services such as taxis for cruise guests, to make sure that the ports can handle the greater influx of passengers.
St. Thomas can berth Royal Caribbean’s largest class of ships, the Oasis, but St. Croix can accommodate the 3,000-passenger voyager class ships, said Carroll.
USVI Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte said that the new agreement was very important to the economy because about 70% of all visitors to the U.S. Virgin Islands came in by cruise ship. The increase in passengers will enable the ports to further upgrade the tourism product, he added.
The increase in cruise traffic to the USVI is part of an agreement that Royal Caribbean Group and the USVI signed last September to enhance Crown Bay in St. Thomas, and redevelop Frederiksted, St Croix