Two cruise ships dock at the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park. (Photo: RUSHTON SKINNER)

A new record for cruise passenger arrivals is expected this year, and 2024 is looking to be even more promising for the industry, according to officials from the BVI Ports Authority and the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park.

The previous record of 699,105 was set in 2016, the year the pier park was completed.

“After 2016, we obviously had Irma, we had Covid-19, so we never built back to these arrival numbers,” said Natasha Chalwell, marketing director of the BVI Ports Authority. “Currently as of the end of November, the manifested passenger arrival is 610,495 people. That has already surpassed total numbers from last year and has us on a trajectory for increased arrivals beyond 2016, which is on record as the highest passenger arrival.”

In the coming months, the numbers are expected to keep growing.

“For next year, we are forecasting 794,000 cruise arrivals,” said pier park CEO Vance Lewis.

New ships

In recent weeks, officials welcomed at least two new 3,099-guest-capacity cruise ships, both from a new class of ships owned by Norwegian Cruise Line. The Prima and the Viva called on Dec. 6 and on Saturday, respectively.

“So far, only two of the five [new NCL] ships have been launched and are on itinerary,” Ms. Chalwell said. “The exciting thing with the Viva is she is homeporting out of San Juan this season, so that particular ship is homeporting in the region.”

The two ships are set to be on next year’s schedule and will make calls bi-weekly, according to Ms. Chalwell.