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Despite the fact that the government assures the low in the number of cruise ships leaving from Puerto Rico to other Caribbean destinations shouldn’t have a significant impact to that segment of our tourism sector, local consumers interested in cruising on Caribbean waters this summer will certainly experience a tough blow to their wallets.

Daphne Barbeito, president of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), assured that come summer, the Victory cruise ship, from Carnival, would be the only cruise ship leaving from San Juan, as the supply has reduced and the prices risen, she noted.

Barbeito said that normally the fare for said cruise ship using San Juan as base port was between $350 and $400 per person plus taxes. Nevertheless, due to the lack of competition the fares have practically doubled to $700 per person.

“As it’s the only product in Puerto Rico and it has no competition, prices goes up,” Barbeito said.

If local consumers want a more economic rate, they’d have to travel to Florida and leave from the ports in Fort Lauderdale, Miami or Cabo Cañaveral. Barbeito explained that cruise trips leave from these ports to the Western or Eastern Caribbean.

There they can find rates between $350 and $400. Nonetheless, trip costs increase as one needs to add the airfare and hotel accommodation for at least one night, considering travel agents recommend to arrive at least one day before at the port of departure.

A trip search carried out by USA Today Puerto Rico Edition this week for airfares between San Juan and Miami in the summer found a good round-trip option for $327, which would translate into $730 altogether -- hotel not included -- for Puerto Rican cruisers.

Even with this data, Tourism Company executive director Luis Rivera Marín made an attempt to counteract the impending news that Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises cruise lines would eliminate 36 cruise trips this year.

According to Inter News Service, Royal will eliminate 26 trip itineraries, whereas Princess would cut down another ten, which would suppose only one cruise line would use Puerto Rico as base port; and that would affect tourism, the travel agent sector and the government as well.

Fewer trips entail fewer taxes for the government to collect, in addition to higher travel rates. “The situation could translate in to $27 million in losses for the island,” Barbeito said.

“The information has been distorted,” said, for his part, Rivera Marín to USA Today Puerto Rico Edition when asked on the looming reduction.

USA Today Puerto Rico Edition also requested a reaction from Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean, but received no response.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, José R. Pérez-Riera, denied there would be a crisis in the local cruise ship sector and assured the government is currently working on multiple initiatives in its favor.

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