The recently concluded 2022-2023 cruise season in El Salvador was a resounding success. From October last year to April this year, the country welcomed 12 luxury tourist ships, surpassing the government’s initial projection of 10 and transporting a total of 17,096 tourists.
The first vessel to dock was the Scenic Eclipse on October 8th, followed by the Norwegian Sun, which arrived at the port of Acajutla later that month on October 23rd with just over 2,400 people on board. This was followed by the Seven Seas Mariner on November 11th, the Norwegian Jewel on December 16th (and again on March 26th this year), the Insignia on January 5th (and again on January 26th), and the Evrima on January 25th.
In April, during the Easter week, El Salvador welcomed the Hanseatic Inspiration on April 8th, the Scenic Eclipse on April 9th, the Eurodam on April 17th, and finally the Norwegian Sun on April 29th, marking the end of the cruise season.
According to Tourism Minister Morena Valdez, this cruise attraction is due to “the fact that the country has changed its image, not only in perception but in reality, thanks to the fight against crime led by President Nayib Bukele’s government.” In addition, the President of the Autonomous Port Executive Commission (CEPA), Federico Anliker, highlighted that the new security in the country, generated by President Nayib Bukele’s strategies, is the basis for attracting tourists and for companies to trust and enjoy El Salvador, along with inter-institutional actions to provide the best conditions for visitors.
“The cruise companies have seen the articulated work between government institutions and tour operators to give the entire value chain and have that unique experience in the region,” said the official in previous statements.
Cruise operators have reported that up to 90% of tourists disembark from the ships to discover the beauty of the beaches, mountains, volcanoes, towns, and historic centers, and many take up to two tours during the 12 hours that the ships stay in Salvadoran ports, taking advantage of the short distances that characterize the country.
The Tourism Ministry estimates that by the end of 2023, more than 2.9 million international visitors will arrive in the country, generating an economic impact of more than $2.9 billion. The success of the recent cruise season bodes well for the country’s tourism industry, which is set to grow in the coming years.