Cruise numbers a concern

Cayman is set to receive 20,158 cruise ship passengers on one day in December and 18,829 on another in the same month, despite the successful efforts to reduce the high number of ships visiting on certain days, Legislative Assembly heard yesterday.

In a statement to the House, Tourism Minister Charles Clifford said the issue of the large number of cruise ships approved by the previous government to visit here on certain days, towards the end of this year and the beginning of the next, was a pressing one when he took office.

There had been talks with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association about looking at the schedules for days when nine ships were due to visit, he said.

It was suggested that call dates could be swapped from Thursday to the less busy Wednesdays and that call times could be staggered.

It had been possible to reduce the total number of cruise ships from 65 to 53 on the Thursday problem days, particularly between 27 October and 29 December, Mr. Clifford told the House.

The reductions in the number of passengers ranged from 1,625 to 5,325 on a single day, he said.

Despite all the efforts, there were still days when the total number of visitors would be more than 16,000, he said.

And there were also days that, notwithstanding the fact that the total number of ships was seven or less, the passenger count was particularly high because of the size of some ships, he added.

The Department of Tourism was working to organise a central daytime activity to provide additional things for several hundred cruise passengers to enjoy, Mr. Clifford told the House.

The Department of Tourism was working with the owners of the former Almond Tree site to organise a Cayman Heritage Fair, he said.

The first of these Heritage Fairs was scheduled for Wednesday, 30 November, he added.

A smaller scaled version of this, at an alternate site, would start on the first problem day, Thursday, 10 November, he said.

Mr. Clifford also confirmed that requests had been received for 16 additional cruise ship calls as a result of the hurricane damage at Cozumel and Cancun, and those had been scheduled on days when three ships or less were already scheduled here.

Some of the high volume cruise days fell during the peak Christmas shopping period, Mr. Clifford pointed out.

‘In addition to DoT’s efforts to address daytime congestion among cruise visitors, the Ministry will work with the Chamber of Commerce to create incentives for more night time shopping by residents during the Christmas season,’ he said.