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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, May 20, 2024


Nov. 13, 2001 – St. Thomas is expected to receive 29 fewer cruise ship calls during the winter season as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
At a luncheon meeting of the Ad Club of the Virgin Islands Tuesday, Edward Thomas, president and chief executive officer of The West Indian Co., said, "These are the stark realities of the events of Sept. 11."
On an up note, Thomas said St. Thomas has seen a 12 percent increase in cruise ship passengers in 2001 over the previous year, despite an 18 percent decrease in September and a 3.5 percent decrease in October. The projections Thomas made for 2001-2002 anticipated 1.9 million passengers arriving on St. Thomas by Dec. 31. Through October, 1.4 million have done so.
Thomas refused to project what lies on the horizon, saying "Things are so fluid now that I officially refuse to predict anything anymore."
With cruise line rates reduced to as little as $499 per person for seven days, Thomas did predict passengers will "have more disposable income to spend in our town."
April and March 2002 will take the biggest hits where ship cancellations are concerned. April calls are down to 80 from 93 and March calls are down from a projected 139 to 131.
Calls are up in December from 111 to 113.
At the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association conference in Aruba in October, Thomas said, he learned that in the past cruise lines labored "for a year before deciding on a new itinerary. Now they are making them up in 15 minutes."
One of the changes the lines have made is to move departure ports from those that could be accessed by plane to locations that 40 percent of Americans can drive to in a half day.
He also said there have not been a lot of cruise vacation cancellations, with ships "continuing to go out in the high 90 percents." It is the advanced bookings that have suffered from the fear generated by the attacks on the World Trade Center, Thomas said, while "many people are taking a wait-and-see attitude."
Although the cruise lines are reporting a rebound in bookings, Thomas said they are "still not back to where they are normally at this time of year."
He said the lines can live with that as long as the bookings continue to come in.
Thomas said WICO had been working with the cruise lines to update the itineraries. As of Tuesday he said the following changes were in effect:
– No changes for November.
– December will see 113 calls, up two from 111 expected.
– January calls will be down by four from 123 to 119.
– February will see 104 calls, down six from 110.
– March will be down eight calls from 139 to 131.
– April calls have been reduced to 80 from 93.
Despite the downtrend, Thomas said, "We are bullish on the return of the tourism industry, and we should be, since it continues to be our No. 1 revenue generator."

Editor's note: The final season schedule is currently being completed. It will be available on St. Thomas Source shortly.

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