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    St. Kitts ready for cruise tourism boom

    Senator Ricky Skerritt, Minister of Tourism & International Transport, has announced that cruise visitor arrivals to St. Kitts are expected to increase by more than 20 percent in the upcoming October 2011 - September 2012 cruise ship season. This announcement was madeat a local cruise stakeholders’ unveiling of the island’s 2011-2012 cruise ship schedule on Tuesday.

    “It is a significant achievement for St. Kitts to be able to forecast a fifth consecutive year of growth in cruise arrivals for the upcoming season,” said Minister Skerritt. “Based on the bookings we have so far, we have projected that more than 650,000 cruise passengers will arrive to St. Kitts by September 2012 and we will strive to ensure that each and every one of those visitors enjoys a high quality experience of our island.”

    Most of the major cruise companies operating in the Caribbean now call at St. Kitts. The lines that are scheduled to make calls to St. Kitts in the 2011-2012 cruise ship season include Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess, P & O, Cunard, Azamara, Seabourn, Silver Sea, Star Clipper, Windstar, Fred Olson, Saga, Thompson and TUI Cruises.

    In the 2009-2010 cruise season, St. Kitts passed the half million passenger arrival mark for the first time in its history. For the past three consecutive years, cruise berth arrivals have exceeded average regional levels. In addition, St. Kitts now has two ships making year round calls to Port Zante, bringing an estimated 88,000 passengers to St. Kitts in the off-season. Year round calls first began in St Kitts in 2008. Further development of onshore attractions and the prospect of a second cruise pier at Port Zante are expected to continue to fuel the development of cruise tourism for the island.

    A heavily pedestrianized commercial development of the land side of Port Zante over the past 6 years, including a world class duty free shopping area, has added to the beauty of the historic capital city of Basseterre and has been key to establishing St. Kitts as a leading Caribbean cruise destination. The construction of the pier at Port Zante measuring1,434 feet in length and with sufficient draught, or depth, has allowed the island to accommodate any of today’s largest ships including “Oasis” class vessels, with the ‘Allure of the Seas’ scheduled to make its inaugural call at Port Zante on December 30, 2011.

    Over the past months, St. Kitts was named a top destination for 2011 by both AOL Travel and British Airways. Located in the northern Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, it offers a diverse tourism product developed from the destination’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and rich history. The island’s stunning variety of tourism attractions include hiking through the tropical rainforest, riding the scenic railway that connects the island’s former sugar plantations, visiting the Caribelle Batik factory, touring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, the only man-made UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean, and more traditional vacation pastimes such as watersports, golf, shopping, tennis, gourmet dining, gaming at St. Kitts’ exclusive casino or simply relaxing on one of the island’s sandy beaches. Accommodations range from intimate plantation inns to larger hotels and resorts.

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