The Bridgetown Port was a hive of activity yesterday when the cruise ship Carnival Venezia arrived with 4 000 visitors, kicking off a 2023/24 winter season for which projections are high.
Welcoming the ship on its inaugural visit, Minister of Tourism Ian Gooding-Edghill said yesterday’s arrival marked the beginning of an anticipated “exceptional winter season” for which the current projection is 392 cruise calls and an estimated 715 527 passengers.
He headed the team of tourism officials representing the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, the Bridgetown Port and the cruise ship’s agents Foster and Ince cruises, for the welcome ceremony aboard the ship. Dancers from the Haynesville Youth Club and members of the Anderson Sealy Steel Band entertained passengers at dockside, as they disembarked.
Carnival Venezia sailed out of New York on a nine-day Caribbean cruise, making yesterday’s the first of three scheduled calls at Barbados for the season.
Captain Enzo Palomba said it was “an honour” to be in Barbados after the COVID-19 pandemic. He exchanged plaques, models of the ship and other gifts with Gooding-Edghill and the chief executive officer of Foster and Ince Cruises, Martin Ince.
The Bridgetown Port accommodated 358 ship calls and 608 583 passengers during last year’s winter season and Gooding-Edghill said the success of this year’s season would “contribute to the overall growth and resilience of the tourism industry.”
He acknowledged Carnival as “a long-standing cruise partner for Barbados” which made a customary weekly call here, while homeporting out of Puerto Rico before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he noted that programme ended when that Carnival ship was deployed back to the US.
“Building on recent discussions with the Carnival Cruise Line’s representatives, we look forward to increased business from the brand as they bring new ships into the market over the upcoming two to five years.”
Gooding-Edghill also used the opportunity to give an update on plans to upgrade the cruise facilities of the Bridgetown Port, announcing that the Bert 6 expansion project would see the Port upgraded and expanded by ten acres to accommodate larger cargo ships and other cruise vessels together.”