Barbados Tourism Minister Ian Gooding-Edghill and other port officials, welcomed the Marella Voyager, which passed through St. Kitts last week, to Barbados with 1,810 passengers and 746 crew aboard.
The ship will be spending the winter cruising season visiting various islands including St. Kitts, but will use Barbados as its home port between cruises. Passengers expect to arrive by air on charter flights from airports in the UK.
During a presentation ceremony on board the vessel on Sunday in the Port of Bridgetown, Minister Gooding-Edghill said he was honoured that the TUI group had chosen Barbados to be its homeport destination for the 2023/2024 winter cruise season, and highlighted that Barbados’ 12-year relationship with the TUI group has “blossomed throughout the years”.
He pointed out that during that period, TUI’s flight capacity has grown over 217 per cent. “This is a testament to the strength of the relationship… and I hope that our partnership will continue to grow stronger,” he stated.
The Tourism Minister said that the Marella Voyager, its sister ship, Marella Discovery, will form a double act in TUI’s fly and sail cruise schedule for the winter cruise season.
“The group’s decision to homeport two of their larger vessels here on the island speaks to the strength of the Barbados brand. Furthermore, homeporting these two vessels is a significant step taken to positively impact our tourism industry, especially during this cruise season….
“Increasing homeporting business will, of course, stimulate pre and post cruise stays, translating to higher on island spend. This is an integral part of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.’s strategy,” he pointed out.
The Tourism Minister reported that the TUI Marella cruise lines will have a total of 46 rotations in Barbados for the winter 2023/2024 season, an increase of six sailing rotations from last season. To assist with the increase in cruise passengers, a strategic effort has been made to increase airlift capacity.
“I’ve been advised that six weekly charter flights will depart Birmingham, Gatwick, and Manchester airports to bring passengers to this destination. Additionally, we see two flights departing from other UK airports each week.
“These additional flights will boost our airlift capacity for the winter season from the United Kingdom. To be exact, these charter flights will bring a total capacity of 61,365 seats for this winter season, an increase of 7,365 seats when compared to the 54,000 seats from last winter season,” Mr. Gooding-Edgill reported.
The Marella Voyager, with its capacity for 1,900 passengers, will have weekly departures from Barbados on Sundays until April 14, 2024, while the Marella Discovery, which has a sailing capacity of 1,800 passengers, will end its winter cruise season on April 18, 2024.
Staff Captain Valeriy Ignatyev thanked the local officials for their hospitality and exchanged welcome plaques with the Minister and Chief Executive Officer of Foster and Ince Cruise Services, Martin Ince.
Source: Sheena Forde, Barbados Government Information Services.