Barbados continues to be a top choice for UK and European cruise lines.

These were the reports coming out of the Caribbean Village at Seatrade Europe held in Hamburg, Germany, where Barbados promoted its cruise offerings ahead of the upcoming winter season.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, the Hon. Ian Gooding-Edghill, attended Seatrade Europe, leading a delegation of Tourism and Port officials. The trade show, which ran from September 6-8, brought together top UK and European cruise lines and suppliers operating out of the region.

“We are happy to say that we continue to have solid relationships with the UK cruise lines. The fact that we are able to maintain a strong homeporting business with our major partners including P&O, Mein Schiff, and TUI, is a testament to the strength of the Barbados brand in this region. In addition, the Bridgetown Port maintains calls from the small boutique vessels such as Star Clipper and Sea Cloud,” Gooding-Edghill said.

Speaking on the success of the show, the Minister stated, “This is my first attendance at Seatrade Europe, and it was important to demonstrate to our longstanding cruise partners that Barbados is serious about building business on this side of the pond. We had several successful meetings with partners discussing global cruise industry trends, and we project growth in this market as a result of these discussions.”

The main topics discussed during meetings with the cruise industry executives included future business; port ratings and customer satisfaction; opportunities for home porting; updates in bunkering arrangements; as well as pre and post-cruise stays. From the Barbados Port Inc., the Minister also provided an update on the capital projects being developed at the country’s sole seaport.

The Minister added that there has been a resurgence post-Covid within the cruise industry. This upcoming season winter 2023/24, Barbados is currently projecting 396 cruise calls with an estimated 722,001 passengers, up from last season’s 358 calls with 608,583 passengers.

These figures are benchmarked against the country’s best-performing season in cruise history, 2018/19, with 384 calls and 726,028 passengers. Currently, Barbados is going to achieve a 99% recovery of pre-pandemic levels in the upcoming winter season.

The Minister added that as Barbados continues to strategically build out its cruise business, he’s mindful of the balance they have to strike with the airlift to adequately facilitate this growth. For that reason, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) is simultaneously discussing airline strategy out of the UK and Europe to satisfy the demand being built on the cruise side through aggressive sales and marketing activity.

He said: “We are pleased to announce that the Condor arrangement will extend beyond winter to become a year-round service.

“This is a major accomplishment for the BTMI considering the global challenges associated with airlift as it will increase the capacity for Europe.” He ended by saying that this goes in line with the BTMI’s strategy to expand opportunities for summer sailings.