The arrival of the Infinity and Regal Princess cruise ships to the Pacific port city of Puntarenas Sunday marked the beginning of the 2006-2007 cruise-ship season, according to a statement from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT). The two ships brought more than 3,000 tourists and 1,600 crew members.
The season was officially inaugurated with a ceremony attended by local government officials, Pacific Port Authority (INCOP) president Paul Zúñiga and Tourism Minister Carlos Benavides.
Tourism officials are hoping for a strong season this year, with 90 cruise ships arriving to Puntarenas within the next few months, 18 more than last year, the statement said. Additionally, 110 ships are scheduled to dock at the Caribbean port city of Limón.
Costa Rica competes with Panama, Mexico, Honduras and several Caribbean islands to host cruise ships, whose passengers are estimated to spend $100 per day while on shore, Benavides said.
To bring more cruise ships to Costa Rica, ICT is working on projects with the municipalities of Puntarenas and Limón to beautify ports and offer more services to tourists.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean ports of Limón and Moín have been under a national spotlight for the past week after port workers began protesting using tortuguismo, or working at a minimum speed, to show their opposition to government plans to privatize the ports’ management (see separate article). Police intervened in the predawn hours of Sept. 28 to stop the protests and force workers to pick up the pace.
Atlantic Port Authority (JAPDEVA) president Walter Robinson said he is confident the protests will not affect the cruiseship season.
“There will not be any problem. The ports are operating normally, ” he said