Cruise ships are flocking to the capital. During the first two weeks of January, Buenos Aires City received 16 international cruise ships, one more than in the same period in 2020 before the pandemic hit.
This meant that 52,100 passengers passed through the cruise terminal over this spell, underlining how the industry is bouncing back from the coronavirus pandemic. Most of the arriving vessels are of large capacity, with more than 3,000 passengers onboard.
Since the start of the season until mid-January, 44 ships have docked, only 10 percent less than the same period of the 2019-2020 season, the City Tourism Board reported. A total of 115,900 passengers have arrived, 74 percent of the visitors registered in the same period of the 2019/2020 season (56,411), according to the data provided by the Observatory of the Ente porteño.
One of the largest cruise ships in the world, the MSC Seaview, docked December 23 carrying 5,000 passengers, before taking back to the seas on January 17. The ship is expected to return once again to Buenos Aires on January 31, bringing even more tourists to shore.
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Breaking down arrivals, 47 percent of the port dockings and 62 of total cruise passengers this season will come from just seven cruise ships, with five from MSC and two from Costa. They normally follow a route that includes the coast of Uruguay (Montevideo and Punta del Este) and different ports on the Brazilian coasts.
At the end of the season, between the end of March and the beginning of April, they will continue their journey onto Europe.
The average size of a travel group is two people (81 percent are couples) with an average stay of between one and two night, according to the observatory's data. The main activities of foreign cruise passengers are city tours (65 percent), shopping (44 percent), and gastronomic activities (28 percent). Around two out of every ten tourists take part in some activity related to tango.
Domestic tourists on cruises come from the provinces of Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Santa Fe, and they primarily opt for gastronomic activities (63 percent) and shopping (19 percent).
The cruise tourism season, which started in October and ends in April, foresees the arrival of 127 luxury liners in total, translating to around 350,000 passengers who make an average daily expenditure of US$90.60 per traveller.
Those numbers represent impressive growth for tourism compared to the pre-pandemic 2018-2019 season, when either fewer ships docked.
The cruise industry, along with so many sectors related to travel and tourism, suffered a huge drop in business during the Covid-19 pandemic.
by Claudio Corsalini, Perfil