Cruise ship passenger arrivals set a new record last year, with most calls coming to the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park (above). (Photo: BVIPA)

As port officials had previously predicted, 2023 saw the arrival of a record number of cruise ship passengers in the territory, the BVI Ports Authority announced Monday.

The number of manifested cruise passenger arrivals hit 720,392, surpassing the previous record of 699,105 in 2016, when the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park opened, according to the BVIPA.

The number is up about 110 percent from the 343,541 arrivals seen in 2022, when the territory was still struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic even as it continued working to recover from Hurricane Irma in 2017.

The BVIPA attributed the record to a “remarkable increase” in ship arrivals at the pier park as well as a “notable rise” in calls to the sister islands.

“Particularly, the [BVIPA] has experienced a surge in visits from smaller, luxury cruise vessels and new cruise lines, showcasing the diversified capabilities of the harbours and ports and the appeal of the entire BVI archipelago,” the agency added.


All told, the territory saw 354 cruise calls last year compared to 263 in 2022.

Of the 2023 total, 232 calls were at the cruise pier and 122 were anchorage calls, including nine at Road Harbour, 56 at Jost Van Dyke, 38 at Virgin Gorda, and 19 at other locations.

Communications and Works Minister Kye Rymer, who is responsible for ports, praised the record.

“This success is not merely a result of internal efforts, but is also a testament to the steadfast dedication demonstrated through strategic collaborations with key partners like the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association and the ongoing reinforcement of ties with cruise industry partners,” he said. “These strategic relationships play an important role in contributing significantly to the overall accomplishments of the authority.”

BVIPA Managing Director Akeem Pickering added, “Our facilities, dedicated team and industry relationships have played a pivotal role in accommodating the increased traffic, demonstrating our capability to handle the demands of a thriving cruise industry.”

The BVIPA is the managing authority for all official seaports in the territory, including the 60-foot-wide, 1,312-foot-long cruise pier, which can berth ships with a maximum tonnage of up to 180,000 gross register tonnage.