Resist cruise piers

Our first visit to the Caymans was via a cruise ship stop over. It gave us a little taste of a number of Caribbean ports. Some we came back to. Some we will never returned to. We have visited the Caymans about 10 times in the last 8 years.

We’ve taken enough cruises now. When we are staying on the northeast side of Grand Cayman, we do not go downtown when the cruise ships are in town. We might go to the north end of Seven Mile Beach, but we avoid downtown. We stay away from those darn American cruise ship tourists – and we”re from Texas, formally from Virginia!.

I understand the dollars – American or other – that these tourists bring to your economy, but look at the price. They’ll buy the great jewelry, cigars, rum, linens, etc. at the beginning of their trip or at the end.

Most ships are stopping in the Caymans midway through a voyage, so fewer dollars per tourist are being spent in George Town. A lot of the merchandise is being bought from the same wholesalers. Shopkeepers have multiple shops. The tourist is seeing the same stuff over and over again. There is only so much shell art that one needs.

You have this large influx of people that swarm over the harbor like locusts. What a relief when the ships leave. If you would market more to the longer staying tourists – those that stay one to three weeks – and have a tax on them, some of the lost cruise revenue when be recouped. For example, you can have a non-resident property tax; higher property transfer taxes; increased airport exit fees increase – we never know exactly how much we are paying -, rental car fees, foreign bank fee increases, etc.

I certainly don’t want to pay more for anything I do. But building a pier for the cruise ships to dock at has to be paid by someone. Cozumel has done it. Roatan is doing it. But what do you really gain? A bunch of cheap, obnoxious tourists that the cruise lines dump for the day. And they will want a wider, longer, fancier, whatever pier next year. And if you don’t conform and they still go somewhere else.

Resist the cruise ship owners from bullying you. They will threaten you with change of routes. But they cruise wherever their customers tell them to go. Maybe you’ll attract a smaller type of cruise ship with nicer, richer passengers that will take more time during a longer stop over to visit and enjoy more of the Caymans.

Sara Baker

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