The developer of the proposed East End seaport says he has identified up to eight cruise lines with whom to begin discussions.
Joseph Imparato said there had been a lot of interest from around the world concerning joint ventures and that the developers would be targeting small, luxury cruise lines rather than the larger ships that currently visit Cayman for initial discussions.
There had already been enquiries from cruise companies regarding home porting possibilities, he added, albeit that without the requisite permissions and permits the idea remains conceptual.
“One of the criticisms has been [whether] we can afford to bring in a Carnival or a Royal Caribbean [ship] and whether we can accommodate those numbers. But two or three thousand people is a lot to be moving so we’re looking at the smaller lines; there are many, many smaller cruise lines that have ships in the 500 to 700 [passenger range] that would love to be in this market,” he said.
Research by the developers had identified that some of these smaller lines do embark on the so-called Exotic Western Caribbean itineraries, which visit smaller islands, Belize and Panama. At present, as these ships are ported as far away as Fort Lauderdale, it would be more profitable for them to be home ported in closer proximity to their destinations. Cayman was therefore perfectly placed to offer that home port.
Mr. Imparato noted that given the project timescale, there were seven years in which a home porting strategy could be developed, which presented a perfect opportunity to be more deliberate in how to structure the cruise economy to serve the needs of the tourism industry and be aligned with the Cayman brand.
It would also give the Cayman Islands a voice in the cruise industry and enable decisions to be made about the type of cruise that suited the destination and how the local economy could benefit whilst showing passengers the best of Cayman.
It had also been noted that Cayman did not currently have the air capacity to bring down passengers, but that was a good problem to have, he said. Rather, because of the timelines, it enabled discussions between cruise companies, the destination, developers, airlines and others to design a sustainable system that utilised current airport capacity efficiently, without necessarily having to expand the airport.
“Cruise passengers [may want to] arrive earlier and stay later… there is no doubt that Cayman Airways can ramp up to meet demand with that much lead time, and so could transportation. [With a hotel too] we could put together some sweet package deals,” said Mr. Imparato. A New York-based hotel company had recently expressed an interest in that aspect, revealed the developers.
The developers will be targeting small, luxury cruise lines.