Largest ships dependent on berthing facilities

The first of Royal Caribbean’s largest class of ships will not be calling on Grand Cayman in 2010.

But it probably will make an appearance the next year.

Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford noted that the Oasis of the Seas ship will not be calling on Grand Cayman in the first year because it needs berthing facilities. This class of ships (formerly called Genesis class, now called Oasis class) will not call on any port without berthing facilities because they will be too large to be tendered.

Referring to discussions that took place in Miami with the FCCA and Royal Caribbean, Mr. Clifford said that these discussions involved the scheduling of the ship in its second year and the scheduling of the second ship in the class, Allure of the Seas, which comes on line for the winter season of 2010.

‘They have underscored to us their commitment to the western Caribbean and in particular to Grand Cayman. They see us as a very important port of call to them – a port of call that is very high on the agenda for their passengers when they are booking a tour and a cruise.

‘And so they are keen to see us develop these facilities and they have underscored their commitment to deploying their ships here when we have berthing facilities.

‘So while we won’t have the Genesis 1 [Oasis of the Seas] in the first year we expect to be ready for at least one Genesis ship in the second,’ said the Minister.

He noted that while the cruise lines do work on preliminary schedules and they run them as far out as three years, they are subject to readjustment.

Oasis of the Seas will be the largest and most revolutionary cruise ship in the world, spanning 16 decks encompassing 220,000 gross registered tons and carrying up to 5,400 guests.

In response to the recent announcement on the going forward with detailed negotiations on cruise facilities, Mr. Robert Hamaty of the Association for the Advancement of Cruise Tourism said, ‘ACT supports cruise ship berthing facilities and the movement of cargo facilities. We look forward to working with all parties involved to ensure the best possible port facilities for the Cayman Islands.’

A previous press release issued by ACT and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association noted that starting 1 May, 2010, Oasis of the Seas will alternate its Eastern Caribbean itinerary with a Western Caribbean itinerary, which will call at Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private beach destination in Haiti; the new port of Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico. The partnership of Royal Caribbean and the investment the company has made in berthing infrastructure, with destinations such as Jamaica, Mexico and Haiti has resulted in Cayman being left out of the Western Caribbean Itinerary, the release noted.

It said that Oasis of the Seas will seek Caribbean destinations that have adequate berthing facilities enabling the convenient commute from the ship to the shore for her large number of guests.

The release goes on to say that the current standard of service that Cayman is able to offer, with tendering alone, leaves many cruise passengers dissatisfied with their experience here, which in turn affects the destination’s ability to attract repeat visitors for cruise or air arrivals, and indeed the cruise industry’s newest vessels.