The West Indian Company Ltd. (WICO) recorded the highest number of cruise passengers at the WICO Dock on Thursday, March 16, since the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in February 2020.
This record achievement occurred just over three years to the day when the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a no-sail order, suspending worldwide cruise ship arrivals and departures from American ports.
The Carnival Celebration arrived Thursday morning with almost 6,400 passengers. The Carnival Magic brought almost 4,300; and the Norwegian Gem brought more than 2,400, which added up to over 13,000 visitors at the WICO Dock.
“Combined with the number of passengers aboard the Wonder of the Seas in Crown Bay, St. Thomas received more than 20,000 visitors, not including crew,” WICO’s President and CEO Anthony A. Ottley said. “This is the kind of day WICO has been anticipating for more than three years. It is a strong indicator that the cruise industry, our facilities and the territory are back. We look forward to visits from larger ships coming online and the additional visitors eager to experience the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
Mr. Ottley added that Thursday’s visit alone contributed over $2.8 Million in revenue to the territory’s coffers in per-passenger spending.
“On average, industry studies show 85 percent of passengers on ships berthing in the USVI disembark and spend approximately $165 per person on excursions, restaurants and shopping,” Ottley said. “Once we dredge the existing channel, turning basin and WICO berths to maintain the minimum clearances necessary to accommodate the current and ever-growing size and number of cruise ships of the future, the territory can see many more days like today.
“Our government and local businesses will experience exponential short and long-term revenue growth from cruise tourism because on average, 25-30 percent of cruise passengers become overnight guests.”
Ottley said this year’s summer cruise season is promising, although not as busy as pre-pandemic summers; however, he looks forward to more vibrant 2024 and 2025 cruise seasons.