Antigua experiences a record-breaking day, welcoming over 15,000 cruise passengers across six cruise ships. The historic event marked a significant milestone for the port and the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, showcasing the area’s growing popularity amongst cruise operators and guests. 

This comes amidst a push from the local government to attract more cruise ships and guests, with various initiatives being rolled out, amongst them the new Oasis-class cruise berth and more. The Caribbean islands are well underway to experience the busiest cruise year to date.

Cruise ships from Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, AIDA, Sea Dream, and Royal Caribbean International brought in 15,808 guests on March 12, setting a new record for the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda.

The port of St. John’s became a busy hive of activity as Enchanted Princess, Costa Serena, Costa Pacifica, Aida Perla, and Explorer of the Seas docked in the capital. Meanwhile, Sea Dream II graced the waters of Falmouth Harbour in Barbuda. The combined arrival of these vessels pushed the passenger count to an all-time high, surpassing any previous records.

Cynthia Jacobs Browne, Financial Controller and Officer-In-Charge at Antigua Cruise Port:“With these incredible passenger numbers, we are on our way to achieving another record-breaking goal – welcoming over 800,000 passengers to Antigua & Barbuda by December 2024. 

Jacobs Browne acknowledged the combined effort it took from all layers of society to pull off the enormous feat of accommodating the massive amount of people while being able to keep the Caribbean vibe that Antigua is known for.

Carnival Venezia in Antigua

“We must thank our port and cruise community, including the port authority, harbour pilots, stevedores, tenants, taxi drivers, tour operators, tourism partners, and the hardworking Antigua Cruise Port team for making this day flow so seamlessly.”

“We are enormously proud to work with all our collaborators on such a historic achievement and forward to breaking more records soon!” Jacobs Browne said.

Antigua and Barbuda‘s main port of St. Johns’s reputation as a great cruise destination in the Caribbean is something that the port has been working on steadily over the years, and one that the local government hopes to capitalize on in the coming years. 

The port’s focus has shifted to welcoming more homeport ships throughout the year, with the 185,000 gross tons, 5,200-passenger P&O Arvia performing four turnarounds this year. The ultra-luxury Emerald Sakara, Royal Clipper, and SeaDream Yacht Club ships also perform regular turnarounds in the port.

Cruise Ships Docked in Antigua (Photo Credit: Gerwin Schadl)

By the end of this cruise season, Antigua will have facilitated twenty-seven turn-around calls, along with 309 regular port calls—a significant increase from the previous season. 

Jacobs Browne: “To date, we have received 299,803 guests for the year and expect to have welcomed over 400,000 guests by the end of the season in April.”

In 2023, Antigua welcomed just over 500,000 cruise passengers, a number that the port will comfortably surpass as it still expects several 5-6 cruise ship days. On March 26, 2024, AIDAperla, P&O Britannia, Explorer Of The Seas, Norwegian Viva, and Seven Seas Splendor will visit.

With the new cruise berth now open for business, and potential new cruise infrastructure opening on Rat Island and at Fort James, the island will be able to celebrate even greater success in the future.

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