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Cruise Ships Once Again Steam to St. Croix

St. Croix is celebrating the New Year with the much-anticipated return of popular cruise lines to the Caribbean island destination after several years of little to no cruise ship activity.

 

After years with little or no cruise ship activity, Caribbean cruises are returning in 2009 to St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Prior to 2004, St. Croix was a popular stop for major cruise companies because of its white sandy beaches, Danish colonial architecture, superb scuba diving and tourist hot spots, including Buck Island National Park and downtown Frederiksted. But after that, the only cruise ship activity to St. Croix mainly consisted of ships refueling—St. Croix is home to HOVENSA, one of the largest oil refineries in the world—allowing passengers to roam the island for a few hours.

The attributed reasons for the decline vary: a supposed increase in crime; preference for the “happening” island of St. Thomas by passengers; not enough activities and tour operators on the island, thereby not generating enough revenue for the cruise companies.

Allegra Kean-Moorehead, director of communications for the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, agrees that the decrease in ships visiting St. Croix after 2004 was in part due to the limit of activities on the island. She also adds that there was a misconception that St. Croix is very similar to the nearby cruise destination of St. Thomas, even though that island is defined by its bustling cosmopolitan feel whereas St. Croix is known for its laid-back and quiet atmosphere.  

A new governor for the islands was elected two years ago, and the change in administration ushered in a new drive for increased tourism and cruise-ship traffic. The government has been working more closely with tour operators to increase the number of tours and activities available for short-term visiting cruise passengers.

“The island has been rebranded as ‘your port of solace,’ where you can relax and find comfort,” says Kean-Moorehead.

It seems to be working.

On Nov. 28, 2008, Oceania Cruises’ Regatta (a small liner carrying about 600 passengers), was the first cruise ship to dock on St. Croix in three years. Around 51 cruise ship companies are sending their ships to St. Croix in 2009 including Royal Caribbean, whose ship the Explorer landed at the St. Croix port on Jan. 5. Other cruise companies include Celebrity Cruises and Disney Cruise Line, which will be offering nine seven-night cruises through the Eastern Caribbean aboard the Disney Magic.

An estimated 37 cruise lines, including Azamara Cruises and Royal Caribbean International have announced plans to add St. Croix to their 2010 travel itinerary.

To see a full schedule of the 2009 cruise ship itinerary to St. Croix, visit www.stcroixtourism.com. There also are live Webcams where you can see Frederiksted and ships in port and the heart of Christiansted at www.gotostcroix.com/live.

Read more about the island in our St. Croix feature article.


Destinations: U.S. Virgin Islands, Saint Croix

Themes: Cruises


User Comments

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