Rivals Carnival and Royal Caribbean have joined forces to sign a memorandum of understanding with the government of Saint Lucia.
The deal will see the formation of a joint venture to manage the existing cruise facilities on the island, and to design, construct and operate a new cruise port.
It was signed during a ceremony at the annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
As part of the memorandum, the trio will establish a long-term concession agreement to formalise the terms and responsibilities for the joint venture to manage and operate the current cruise pier and terminal facilities at the Port of Castries.
Additionally, the joint venture will design, finance, construct and operate a new cruise port in Vieux Fort on the southern part of the island.
The latter will be able to accommodate the latest ships in the cruise industry.
Prime minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet, called the signing of the deal “historic” and “a major step towards enhancing Saint Lucia’s tourism product”.
“Saint Lucia has had record breaking cruise arrivals over the past few years and we thank our partners Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean for their continued confidence in our amazing destination,” said Chastanet.
“It is essential that we continue to diversify what we have to offer, grow our brand and ensure that different sectors in our island’s economy benefit from the growth in cruise tourism and that Saint Lucians can benefit from the opportunities which arise from the increased numbers; which means we have to improve our capacity.
“This signing is historic, as this project will have a major impact on the sustainability of the cruise sector and the reach of cruise tourism to the south of the island.
“This will also mean employment at several phases of the project, the expansion of existing businesses and the formation of new enterprises.
“We look forward to this partnership as this marks a new day and a significant achievement for our government, for the people of the south of Saint Lucia and for our island as a whole.”
Together, the cruise line brands of Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises currently account for three quarters of all cruise ship deployment to Saint Lucia.
“This is an exciting day for our guests who already love the beauty and deep culture of Saint Lucia and an important step in sustaining cruise tourism growth for the island,” said Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation.
“We look forward to working closely with our joint venture partners to give cruise passengers great experiences when visiting the island.”
Under the new agreement, the joint venture would optimise the experience for guests visiting Saint Lucia while developing additional cruise infrastructure to support the industry’s latest ships and promote the growth of cruise tourism on the island.
“The cruise market is the fastest growing sector of tourism and in the next decade cruising in the Caribbean region is anticipated to increase by 40 per cent,” said Michael Bayley, chief executive, Royal Caribbean.
“We are excited to partner with the government of Saint Lucia to ensure that the destination directly benefits from that growth, while giving more guests the opportunity to visit this unique gem in the Caribbean.”