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Puerto Rico: Cruise

Cruise industry growth looks promising

Marketing strategies bring results


Puerto Rico places a great deal of importance on protecting its cruise business. The government has approved new legislation to create incentives to promote the country as a viable cruise ship destination and is implementing marketing strategies to promote the advantages of Puerto Rico’s geographical location in the Caribbean, its natural beauty, modern infrastructure, unique culture and hospitality. 

The cruise industry is a major part of Puerto Rico’s tourism product and one of the biggest contributors to the local economy; and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company has been the main force in strategies to promote its development. Its efforts have brought positive results in terms of transit numbers and an increase in home port routes. One cruise line has taken the unusual step of expanding its itinerary to include the city of San Juan as home port, with calls at six other Puerto Rican ports: Fajardo, Ponce, Mayaguez, Arecibo, Vieques and Culebra. In the luxury cruise market sector, the exclusive Sea Dream Yacht Club expanded its San Juan schedule, adding calls at Fajardo, Arecibo, Culebra, Vieques, Ponce and Mayagüez. 

The number of ships using Puerto Rican ports as a home port has grown by 16 per cent.

Increase recorded

This has led to an increase in sales revenues for hotels, restaurants, transport companies, tour operators and other businesses directly and indirectly. Half of the 14 lines that include Puerto Rico on their itineraries use one of its ports as a home port. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has the largest cruise market share in Puerto Rico with the largest number of cruise ships both in home port and transit routes.

According to statistics from the Business Research & Economic Advisors (BREA), the economic impact of each cruise passenger coming ashore in Puerto Rico is $159.33. Cruise ships bring 1.2 million passengers to the country’s shores each year.

Home port

During 2013 Puerto Rico will welcome new cruise ship routes. The Jewel of the Seas will start using San Juan as a home port. The Disney Fantasy will include a call in Puerto Rico, bringing 49,400 additional passengers. The Carnival Valor will replace the Carnival Victory on its in-transit route, a move with the potential to bring in an additional 11,000 additional passengers per year. Holland Princess, NCL and MSC have also increased their visits to Puerto Rico. 

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company must be extremely happy with the results of its efforts. Initiatives to build vacation-based businesses during a persisting global recession are not guaranteed to deliver the positive results expected. For Puerto Rico, however, the cruise industry numbers are encouraging and the future looks promising.