Tourism Co. announces arrival of 7,000 cruise passengers to Port of San Juan
SAN JUAN – The executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., José Izquierdo, announced that the Port of San Juan received Thursday some 7,000 passengers who arrived on the first cruiseships to make exclusive transit stops on the island after the passage of hurricanes Irma and María.
Izquierdo pointed out that there arrival represents a milestone in the public corporation’s Destination Recovery Plan for the island’s tourism industry and overall economy.
Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas and Carnival Cruise Line’s Conquest docked at Piers 3 and 4, respectively, at 7 a.m. and will depart late in the afternoon, giving time to thousands of tourists to visit the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan “to explore the attractions of the walled city and enjoy the enriching cultural and gastronomic experience that distinguishes Puerto Rico from the rest of the Caribbean.
“We have been preparing for several weeks to receive the thousands of tourists that will visit us [Thursday] and the hundreds of thousands that will continue to arrive in the coming months. For this, we have established priorities and prepared our tourist offering so our visitors get the best possible impression of our island and begin to spread the word worldwide that we are ready to receive leisure tourists in San Juan,” Izquierdo said in a press release Wednesday.
Although the cruise lines had scheduled the arrival of their ships for the season, they materialized as a result of the collaboration between the Tourism Co. and both cruise companies, according to government-owned corporation.
For the Tourism director the resumption of transit stops is a significant event, as it not only positively impacts the tourism industry in general, but also the main businesses and attractions outside the metropolitan area and especially Old San Juan businesses, many of which could not reopen because electric power had not been restored.
Izquierdo also said that for the cruiseship arrivals, the Tourism Co. organized art, musical and entertainment activities at several Old San Juan points and plazas that will also be carried out for future cruises. Puerto Rico’s State Department and Institute of Culture contributed to the scheduled events.
“Our commitment is not only to attract tourists, but also for them to have the best possible experience during their visit. This reaffirms the reasons why [travel] publication the Lonely Planet chose San Juan as one of the 10 best cities to visit in 2018,” Izquierdo said.
“The lack of electricity in Old San Juan has been a priority issue, which we addressed directly with the Electric Power Authority, the area’s businesses and allies such as the representatives and senators for the District of San Juan. Progress is already noticeable, and thanks to this, today Old San Juan and its businesses are ready to receive tourists. The vast majority of commercial areas and main attractions, such as Castillo San Felipe del Morro and San Cristóbal, are powered up and have reopened to the public,” the executive director said
Although the cruises’ returns are the first calls after the September hurricanes, homeport operations resumed on Oct. 7.
Last week, seven ships used San Juan to make eight departures. On Friday, Disney Magic will be arriving to depart from its homeport, San Juan.
The Port of San Juan will see 58 departures and 32 transit stops between November and December, with the ships carrying a combined estimate of 110,000 passengers, for an economic impact of $25 million, according to Tourism Co. data.