Larger ships on order

Destinations must ready ports

Cruise ship ports should prepare to accommodate increasingly larger ships or face the possibility of having cruise lines call on alternative ports.

Colin Veitch, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, told the attendees of the Fireside Chat Lunch of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Conference that it is the cruisers themselves who want the bigger ships.

‘We’re building them because this is what the market wants,’ he said.

In 2000, Norwegian starting updating its ships and by next year, it will have the youngest fleet in the industry, Mr. Veitch said.

The ships it is now having built will all have large capacities.

‘Some will hold 5,000 passengers, some will hold 3,000,’ he said. ‘The ports have to be able to accommodate these larger ships.’

Ports that can’t accommodate the larger ships are likely to lose ship calls.

‘The alternative is to build smaller ships, and no one is stepping up to do that.’

Although Mr. Veitch did not mention Cayman by name at any point during his chat, the warning was there.

‘The destination ports are recognising that accommodating these ships is the key to success,’ Mr. Veitch said. ‘Anchoring off shore and tendering in 5,000 people is not feasible.’

Mr. Veitch noted that one of the cruise berths in Bermuda can only accommodate ships up to a certain size. Unless that facility is improved, the larger cruise ships will just start going to the other end of the island, he said.

One of the important ways of accommodating larger ships is having berthing facilities. Currently, all cruise ship passengers coming to the Cayman Islands must take a tender ashore.

However, Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford announced earlier this year that the Cayman Islands would construct berthing facilities for four ships in George Town.

Mr. Veitch also commented on countries that tried to curtail cruise tourism.

‘There were countries that had five to six thousand passenger limits [per day] and national cruise policies. Those places have recognised they needed to up those limits.’

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