A new study commissioned by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has found that direct cruise spending totalled nearly US$2 billion in 21 Caribbean and Latin American destinations in 2011/12.
The study, released in Curacao at the associations conference and trade show, reveals that US$1.99 billion in spending by passengers, crew and cruise lines generated 45,000 jobs and US$728 million in wages across the 21 destinations.
The Exton, Pennsylvania-based Business Research and Economic Advisors (BREA), which conducted the study, find each passenger spent an estimated average US$95.92.
BREA noted that 52 per cent of passengers bought shore excursions, generating US$270 million in total payments to tour operators.
Other notable purchases include watches and jewellery (US$583 million), clothing (US$158 million), food and beverage (US$106.5 million) and local crafts and souvenirs (US$87 million).
BREAs chief Andy Moody said passengers were generally very satisfied with their visits and that shore excursions revealed the highest satisfaction level.
Moody said cruisers were typically very satisfied with their interactions with local citizens while shopping but were less satisfied with the variety of shopping and the prices. He, however, said visitors were very satisfied in the high-spending destinations.
The survey finds that five destinations had direct cruise expenditures of US$100m or more The Bahamas (US$393.8 million), St. Maarten (US$356.2 million), US Virgin Islands (US$339.8 million), Puerto Rico (US$186.6 million) and the Cayman Islands (US$157.7 million).
With US$1.43 billion in direct expenditures, these five destinations together accounted for 72 per cent of the total cruise expenditures among the 21 destinations, BREA says.
It says the next nine destinations, with spending between US$25 million and US$100 million accounted for 23 per cent of the total cruise expenditures with a combined total of US$457.7 million in direct spending.
BREA says direct spending among these nine destinations ranged from US$30.3 million in the British Virgin Islands to US$70.6 million in St. Kitts and Nevis.
In addition to St. Kitts and Nevis, Aruba (US$63.7 million), Belize (US$61 million), the Turks and Caicos (US$60.6 million) and Barbados (US$53.7 million) had total cruise expenditures in excess of US$50 million.
BREA says the remaining seven destinations, with less than US$25million in direct cruise expenditures, had a combined total of US$98.5 million in direct cruise spending and accounted for 5 per cent of the total among the 21 destinations.
It says cruise expenditures among these destinations ranged from US$2 million in Nicaragua to US$21.4 million in the Dominican Republic.
In addition to the Dominican Republic, Honduras (US$20.4 million), Costa Rica (US$18.5 million), Dominica (US$18 million) and Grenada (US$15.2 million) had direct expenditures in excess of US$15 million, BREA says.
FCCAs president, Michele Paige, described the findings as wonderful news, adding that for destinations the data gleaned from the survey is the key to understanding what passengers like and dont like in destinations.
She said the findings can be a useful tool for improvement.