While figures for this tourist season are on target in respect of cruise arrivals, an increase is expected in the months ahead. With the addition of several European lines, it is expected that Belize will surpass the million tourist mark. As it stands, Royal Caribbean will be upping its calls threefold, going from ten in this high season to thirty-three by next year. The increase in arrivals should see more jobs, as well as economic opportunities for local stakeholders.

On the Phone: Valdemar Andrade, Director of Destination Planning, B.T.B.

“In this season so far the arrivals have been going as expected. At this current time we have expected around nine hundred and twenty-five thousand passengers for this year. Of course we have been working very hard to put in place other lines and of this year we have MFC that is going to join us which is a European ship that’s going to do its first call on the thirty-first of December. And we have… which is a German ship which will be joining us in November of 2016. As we are trying to fill, as Norwegian moves its calls to the south we are trying to fill those spaces. And we are also working with Tallman Tours which is a Spanish cruise line through Royal Caribbean which is also making calls to Belize. And I think they have increased their calls from ten this season to thirty-three in the next season.”

Liberty of the Seas to Visit Belize

The scheduled arrival of the Liberty of the Seas, a Freedom-class family vessel, at the peak of the 2015 tourist season, should see the landing of approximately three thousand, six hundred visitors to Belize.  The cruise ship is expected to call on Belize City a week from today and stakeholders in the tourism industry are preparing for its arrival.  The addition of the liner to the existing itinerary is one of several inclusions being made as the season progresses.  According to Valdemar Andrade, Director of Destination Planning at the Belize Tourism Board, it is one of the largest ships to be serviced in Belize.

On the Phone: Valdemar Andrade, Director of Destination Planning, B.T.B.

“The Liberty of the Seas will make its first call on the twenty-sixth of November and then it has another call in December.  It basically has about three thousand, six hundred passengers and about one thousand, three hundred crew onboard and it’s one of the biggest ships that we have serviced.  Other than that it was the Navigator of the Seas which was around three thousand passengers and about one thousand, one hundred crew.”

Isani Cayetano

“Is there a reason why this liner has been added to the winter schedule, if I may?”

On the Phone: Valdemar Andrade

“Well basically as we develop the full schedule as we go along and the cruise lines look at their deployment they basically are moving ships around and, you know, they chose to put this ship in this western route and include Belize on its itinerary, you know.  So, you know, as we get out there and we look at, you know, how do we market to them and how do we work with them we are able to bolster the schedule as we go along.”

…Focus Remains on Visitor Experience

The launch of the Harvest Caye terminal will see a vacuum being filled in Belize City, as Norwegian will be taking its ships south. According to Andrade, while a new benchmark in arrivals will be set, the focus remains on ensuring that visitor experience and guest satisfaction are at an optimum.

On the Phone: Valdemar Andrade, Director of Destination Planning, B.T.B. “As we move towards putting in place now a second cruise port in the south, we definitely will be approaching a million passengers for the entire country of Belize. For us, you know, we look at how we continue to ensure that the guests [receive] quality services. We keep looking at ensuring that we do training, we just ran a specialized Aquila cruise excellence training for already experience cruise guides, also that’s an FCCA certified training to ensure that we keep looking at guest experience because we want our port ranking and guest satisfaction ratings to keep raising. We have come a long way with this and we also have the opportunity to do this to get to be in the top three ports in this route. It’s the same that we are doing in the south, to see how we can ensure that we start at a high level and ensure that we maintain a high level for our port ranking and our guest satisfaction ratings. Again, we are out here ensuring that when it comes to safety and security, when it comes to guest experience, when it comes to building new itineraries and tour options that we are working with tour operators, tour guides and ensuring that the ships know what Belize has to offer because there’s much to do in Belize and we keep increasing those numbers to the ships and to the guests to ensure that they have a good guest experience.”

Channel 5