Luxury small cruise ship companies SeaDream Yacht Club and Windstar Cruises will make scheduled stops in Vieques and Culebra from October to March 2019, Puerto Rico Tourism Co. Executive Director Carla Campos confirmed.
The first scheduled stop is slated for Oct. 28, when the Sea Dream Yacht Club’s “Sea Dream II” ship will arrive with about 160 passengers and crew, according to the itinerary provided to this media outlet.
In November, the schedule includes two visits from Windstar Cruises’ “Star Pride” to Vieques, on Nov. 11 and Nov. 25. That bigger ship has the capacity for some 200 passengers and crew. The Sea Dream II will return to Vieques on Nov. 11, according to the itinerary.
In December, the Star Pride will anchor in Vieques twice, on the 9th and the 23rd. It will return on Jan. 6th and 20th, on Feb. 3rd and 17th, and March 3rd and 10th.
According to the schedule, the Star Pride will make stops in San Juan the day before arriving to Vieques. Meanwhile, the Sea Dream II will visit both Vieques and Culebra on the same day, the Tourism Co. confirmed.
“We’re going to have cruise ships arriving this winter season, which is going to be another opportunity for us to show that these islands are ready,” Campos said.
Although the economic benefit that these cruise ship visits will generate were not available as of publishing, Campos said businesses on the islands that rely on tourism, especially leisure travelers, should expect an uptick in activity.
“It’s really important because those islands have not been getting much cruise ship performance and it’s difficult, because they’re small islands and you really need to curate those experiences and make sure that the islands can hold the capacity of arrivals of big cruise ships,” Campos said.
“That’s why Windstar Cruises are ideal, because they are boutique operations with few passengers and few travelers who really want to get to know the authentic experience on the island,” she said.
Although they will not be staying overnight, they will be arriving to Vieques, spending locally, and maybe even getting inspired to come back, she added.
In preparation for the arrival of the small cruise ships, the government has set out to improve and renovate the terminals in Vieques and Culebra, which should be ready by the end of the year. Those projects will be conducted through public-private partnerships agreements, to provide “significant, long-term solutions,” she said.