Global cruise chiefs have thanked agents for helping to tackle negative perceptions of the Caribbean following last year’s major hurricanes, as they vowed to build the destination “back better”.
Adam Goldstein, vice-chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd said he had heard “no noise” among the line’s trade partners questioning if the region’s islands “were ready to deliver great experience for guests”.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripped through parts of the Caribbean in September 2017 with Anguilla, St Barths, the British Virgin Islands (BVIs), Barbuda and St Martin among destinations severely damaged.
Goldstein said the cruise sector was “very fortunate” to have agents able to spread the word to consumers about the destination’s recovery and “who understand that the Caribbean is open for everyone.”
He told journalists he would encourage agents who “remain weary” of the destinations to “update your research” and if possible conduct hotel inspections first hand.
Goldstein was speaking as part of a media update call alongside Arnold Donald, chief executive of Carnival Corporation and Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association president, Michele Paige.
Assessing the state of cruise tourism to the Caribbean, Paige said preliminary figures forecast the region to welcome ten million cruise passengers during 2018.
She described how despite the hurricanes, the destination still accounted for $3.4 billion, 79,000 jobs and $911 million worth of wages during the 2017-18 cruise year.
Donald said he believed the situation was now "much brighter for those few destinations that were impacted.”
Asked if the severity of last year’s storms could prompt Carnival Corporation, whose eight brands alone visited 58 ports on more than 5,000 port calls last year, to decrease its capacity in the region, he replied: “Absolutely not. The Caribbean is expansive, there’s no need to think about going anywhere else.”
Goldstein described how customer satisfaction rates were “at a normal level” and in some cases, “better than it was a year ago at this time”.
He also pointed out that all port infrastructure was back in operation with the exception of one pier in St Croix.
Reiterating the need for the cruise sector to continue its support of the region, Donald said: “cruising and receiving cruise guests is the first line of recovery” calling the financial boost to the destinations from cruise a “catalyst for recovery”.
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