St. Kitts and Nevis' Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Sen. the Hon. Richard Skerritt delivered good news to the island's tourism stakeholders in the National Assembly on Thursday.
"Inspite of the intense competition from global ports, and after months of relentless lobbying, it was therefore with great pleasure that we learnt last week that Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has decided to return to summer cruising in our region. They have decided to redeploy the Jewel of the Seas to the Caribbean from May to October 2013 to offer 25 sailings out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. This decision will result in 16 additional calls to Port Zante during the summer of 2013, bringing over 33,800 guests,"' he told Parliament and the Nation. Jewel of the Seas made one call to St. Kitts' Port Zante during the 2011/2012 cruise ship season.
Minister Skerritt thanked Royal Caribbean Cruise Line for responding positively to once again offer year-round cruise options in the sub-region from next year.
"Jewel of the Seas will operate with three Southern Caribbean itineraries in the summer and autumn, and two itineraries in the winter and spring 2013-14 seasons. Departing every Saturday, the seven-night, round-trip itineraries include calls at a range of exciting ports throughout our sub-region, including St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Antigua, and the U.S.V.I., as well as St. Maarten, Barbados, Aruba and Curacao,"' he said.
Mr. Skerritt also disclosed that Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas returns for the winter 2013-14 season to bolster Royal Caribbean's offerings from San Juan, alternating two seven-night Southern Caribbean itineraries.
"On one itinerary, guests call at St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Aruba and Curacao, while the second calls at Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Croix,"' he said.
He earlier pointed out that three years ago, St. Kitts welcomed the first summer ship from carnival cruise lines in 2008 and continued to schedule this weekly ship year-round to Port Zante.
"In 2011 we received an added bonus when Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines sent the Serenade of the Seas to our port every two weeks for last year's slow season and for the entire duration of the year. This gave local cruise stakeholders even more reason to be happy because of the extra summer business that over the years they had grown accustomed to do without. Mr. Speaker, it was therefore with sadness and grave concern that we learnt last year that RCCL was repositioning the Serenade of the Seas out of the Caribbean completely in 2012.
For St. Kitts that meant that we would have a one season only benefit from summer calls of the Serenade, and that for 2012 we would be back to the once weekly summer calls of the Carnival Victory, the ship which we look forward to seeing at Port Zante every Friday. For some other neighbouring islands who had been receiving calls of the Serenade year round for many years, the news last year of the withdrawal of the Serenade from our region from 2012 was devastating, to say the least,"' Mr. Skerritt said.
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