Carnival Cruise ship at Dominica's port
Carnival Cruise ship at Dominica's port

There was a slight decline in cruise ship passenger arrivals during the 2014/2015 season but three unscheduled stops by Carnival Cruise Lines have left officials and stakeholders optimistic for the cruise line's return in upcoming seasons.

Carnival Cruise Lines had removed Dominica from its itinerary in 2010, citing the high cost of fuel and negative feedback from passengers.

But Head of Product Development at Discover Dominica Authority (DDA) Kathleen Cuffy-Jno Jules said discussions are being held with Carnival Cruise Lines with a view to reinstating Dominica in its itinerary.

"As you know, we are trying to regain those calls from Carnival. We had several calls during the season unscheduled but so far nothing yet has been confirmed. But we are very optimistic... they are willing to work with us if not for the 2015 – 2016 definitely for the 2016 – 2017 we will see more calls," she said.

According to Jno-Jules, there were 195 cruise calls for the 2014/2015 cruise season with 274, 346 cruise passengers. During the 2013/2014 cruise season, there were 197 cruise calls with 282, 394 cruise passengers.

Tourism Revenue increase

But while there was a decrease in cruise passengers, there was an increase in tourist expenditure. DDA's records show that tourism expenditure in 2013 was $20, 197,490.23. The expenditure in 2014 was $25,476,477.89.

President of the Dominica Taxi Association (DTA) Oris Campbell said that despite the decrease in numbers, the 2014/2015 season was better than the previous year.

"I am talking in relation to the organized and pre-sold tours; our numbers this year were a little better than the one before in terms of the number of persons. The two German operated vessels -- the Meinshieff and Aida -- contributed mainly to about 50% of our numbers. They made fortnightly calls and counted for about 20 calls this season," said Campbell.

Furthermore, DDA is optimistic that the cruise calls for the 2015/2016 cruise season will increase if Carnival Cruise Lines adds Dominica to its itinerary. Cuffy-Jno Jules said Dominica will enhance its cruise tourism entertainment activities to include ATV tours and water boarding which will serve as a bonus to Dominica's cruise offerings.

She said DDA will also continue to partner with the Ministry of Tourism to enhance the major tourism sites on island. Also in preparation for the new season, DDA has once again planned a series of training sessions for service providers, especially those who interact directly with the visitors.