Saint Lucia (October 8, 2012) – The arrival of MV Oriana on Saturday October 06, 2012 heralds the official start of St. Lucia’s 2012 Cruise Season. The MV Oriana is a P & O Cruise Line vessel of the Carnival Cruise Line Corporation. Bringing 1789 passengers into Port Castries, she is the first of 353 ships scheduled into call Port Castries this season.

“The cruise industry continues to be important to SLASPA and by extension Saint Lucia.  Port Castries is expected to welcome an estimated 537,808 cruise passengers this season, a 1% decline over last cruise season. While several vessels have been redeployed, we have increased calls from major cruise lines. This speaks to Saint Lucia’s resilience as a port of call at a time when many Ports are recording significant decline in business. It also speaks to the efficiency of Port Castries and the many industry stakeholders who have invested in their products to enhance the experience of our cruise visitors” said Dona Regis, Director of Marketing and Product Development who recently returned from the annual Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference.

The FCCA conference was held from October 1-5, 2012 on the island of Curacao. This conference provides a forum for networking with cruise industry partners such as Cruise Executives, other ports of call and service providers. Representatives of SLASPA formed the official delegation led by the Minister of Tourism and Creative Industries. “We held successful meetings with several cruise lines to include Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Disney Cruises. Port Castries continues to be a popular port of call for liners as several Cruise Executives reiterated their level of satisfaction with the port operations and wider destination.  However, we understand that sustainable growth of the sector goes beyond the Port and in this regard, SLASPA will continue to work closely with local industry partners to ensure that there is continuous product improvement which is what really drives the sector” concluded Dona Regis.

This year, Saint Lucia will record increased calls from several cruise lines to include Royal Caribbean who have increased their off –season visits with 17 calls from the Jewel of the Seas; Sea Bourn Cruises, Holland American and Oceana Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines who returns to St. Lucia with the Norwegian Pearl and the Norwegian Sun. 

For more information on the island of Saint Lucia visit www.saintlucianow.com or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SaintLuciaTouristBoard.