The 2015-2016 cruise ship season at Costa Rica’s Caribbean port of Limón officially ended Friday with a total of 107 cruise ship arrivals from October to March. That’s a nearly 60 percent increase over the previous season, the Atlantic Port Authority (JAPDEVA) reported.
The vast majority of those ships came from the U.S. but the port authority also recorded arrivals from European cruise ships.
Officials also reported a preliminary figure of 182,065 tourists arriving on cruise ships during that period, and they estimate the final comparison with the 2014-2015 season will show an important spike in tourists, JAPDEVA’s cruise ship department director, Rita Ramírez, said.
JAPDEVA officials believe the positive numbers are a direct result of two main factors, principally the government’s efforts to attract more cruise ship companies. The second factor is the inclusion of Costa Rica as an official boarding port for tourists after 20 years as a stopover on cruise routes in the Caribbean.
The inclusion of Costa Rica as a boarding port added a total of 20,015 tourists — most of them Ticos — who boarded cruise ships at Limón’s docks. Previously, local tourists had to fly to ports in Panama, Mexico or Florida to board cruise ships.
Benefits for Limón
The recently ended cruise season also represented a boost to Limon’s economy. JAPDEVA’s preliminary review states that the increase in cruise ship activity generated nearly 150 new direct jobs and some 1,000 indirect ones.
The agency also said that in recent months it has received many reports of improved sales for restaurants, bars, tour operators, transport companies and even local artisans who offer their souvenirs at the docks and surrounding areas.
Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura said the government is making an effort to boost the cruise ship industry, which had seen a decrease in recent years.
Ventura also said that a mission from the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association will arrive in Costa Rica on June 8 to discuss ways to further promote the cruise industry here. The group will hold meetings with government and city officials, and also with tourism leaders and business owners.
The 2016-2017 cruise ship season begins on October 8.