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Large influx of cruise ship passengers to come in 2023 | News

The VI Port Authority and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line announced on Tuesday the establishment of a memorandum of understanding late last year that will significantly increase the volume of cruise ship passengers in the territory, tripling the volume of passengers at Sainte-Croix by 2023.

At a Tuesday press conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Florida, Royal Caribbean Group representative Joshua Carroll said the company’s approach to the deal was to allow the growth.

“The goal of this agreement was to collectively grow tourism activity in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The quickest and fastest way to contribute is our passenger volume. We acted very quickly,” Carroll said.

At the height of passenger volume on St. Croix in 2019, the island saw 50,000 cruise ship passengers while St. Thomas saw nearly 500,000, but next year the executive director of the Port Authority VI Carlton Dowe said St. Croix can expect 140,000 cruise ship visitors and St. Thomas can expect 750,000.

“We knew that Sainte-Croix needed traffic and they [Royal Caribbean] committed from the time they signed this MOU that we will see an increase in St. Croix, but I couldn’t imagine it would be threefold,” Dowe said.

Not only will Frederiksted Pier see significantly more volume, Crown Bay will start to bustle with travelers as Jayne Halcomb, head of the Royal Caribbean Group, said the Port of St. Thomas is expected to see a 70% increase in passenger volume.

The two islands aren’t the only ones to benefit from the influx, Dowe said St. John will also have an advantage as a direct ferry service will be able to carry 400 people at a time from Crown Bay directly to St. John.

“What had to be done was to diversify the movements of people on the territory. We cannot continue to run away from water. Water has to be part of how we move our people back and forth,” Dowe said. “So all three islands will benefit from this relationship.”

VI Port Authority Board Chairman Willard John said the agreement will reinforce “meaningful and positive change” across the territory and provide a unique opportunity for each island to distinguish itself from the collective.

“You know all of our islands, the three of our islands that are inhabited, we have our similarities but we also have our differences and this gives us the opportunity to clearly demonstrate our differences,” John said. “We try to prepare on the three islands for people to discover the topography and the geography, the people and our culture. We are ready to accept and demonstrate our positive attributes.

Prior to the pandemic, VI Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte said 70% of all visitors who came to the U.S. Virgin Islands on vacation came by cruise ship and the arrangement between the two entities is expected to spark a resurgence in tourism. industry in the territory.

The “good news” of the additional volume “means that investment in the cruise excursion side in particular should start to start,” Boschulte said, and “for all the workers who make a living there – that’s important” .

Some of these workers include those in the territory who work in retail, taxi drivers, restaurants, shipyards and tour services.

Building on Boschulte’s sentiments, Dowe said he wanted the public to understand the correlation between the additional passenger volume and “the businesses that need to be involved and see this as an opportunity for St. Croix.”