Cabo de La Vela, in Colombia, received its first cruise ship on January 11. Located at the country’s La Guajira department, the destination welcomed the Emerald Azzurra for a transit call.
According to ProColombia, the Emerald Cruises vessel was travelling with a total of 40 international guests onboard.
The operation marked a significant milestone for the region, Colombia’s promotion agency said, and opened doors to the possibility of welcoming more ships in the future.
Colombia’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, Germán Umaña Mendoza, highlighted the call as a “historic event” for local tourism and pointed out that the country’s government has been working for the development of a responsible, regenerative and sustainable tourism.
Located on the country’s Caribbean coast, the department of La Guajira is a region with high potential for this activity, he added.
The official also said that the arrival of the cruise ship generates new opportunities for local inhabitants, as well as for businessmen and visitors interested in learning about the experiences offered.
Carmen Caballero, president of ProColombia, expressed pride in achieving the historic moment, calling La Guajira “a paradisiacal destination with rich cultural heritage and a lush natural environment.”
Before arriving at Cabo de La Vela, the Emerald Azzurra sailed from Barbados on January 6. In addition to the new cruise destination, the ship’s itinerary also featured visits to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Aruba and Curaçao, as well as Colombia’s Santa Marta and Cartagena.
The onshore experience at Cabo de la Vela, directed by Colombia 57, offered international visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the beauty of the region, ProColombia said.
Claudius Docekal, Vice President of Ocean Implementation at Emerald Cruises, expressed excitement about becoming the first boutique cruise line to visit Cabo de la Vela.
Brendan Rayment, commercial director of Colombia 57, highlighted the collaboration with local authorities and ProColombia to create a tour that included a cultural immersion in a ranchería (small rural settlement with the traditional constructions of the Wayuu indigenous community) and an interactive activity with local students teaching Wayuunaki words.
According to ProColombia, the cruise industry in Colombia is undergoing “exponential growth.” The country registered a 151% increase in arrivals and 346% rise in passenger arrivals between the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.
Projections for the 2023-24 season indicate a further surge in cruise activity, the promotion agency added, with an estimated 214 visits from at least 30 cruise lines and approximately 329,226 passengers.
The economic impact is estimated to reach close to US$50 million for the 2023-24 season, showcasing the significant role cruise tourism plays in contributing to Colombia’s destinations.