Cruise lines have reappraised their schedules in the light of recent violence in Mexico.
Due to the continued unrest, several cruise lines are repositioning their ships from Southern California schedules to include extra visits to Cayman.
Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas was originally posted in Los Angeles, cruising the west coast of Mexico. However, it will now begin offering seven-night trips to the Western Caribbean instead, out of Galveston, Texas.
The Voyager-class ship is capable of carrying 3,840 passengers and visits Cayman four times before the end of 2011. Her first visit is at 10am on Thursday, 17 November, 2011, with subsequent calls biweekly until the end of the season.
Joseph Woods of the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands noted that it was not uncommon for cruise lines to reposition their ships and confirmed that Mariner was booked to call between November 2011 and April, 2012.
Cayman’s tourism industry acknowledged that while the circumstances are not ideal, the repositioning of ships would benefit Cayman. Trina Christian of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association said that external factors can often lead to altered cruise schedules.
“It’s to our advantage as the ships were scheduled to be fewer [next season]. In the industry people are saying that the demand for the Caribbean is down. If it is and yet it can be offset by this opportunity… it’s something we can welcome with open arms.”
She added that less demand allied to the larger ships not calling in the foreseeable future while any cruise berthing facilities have yet to be constructed remains an issue.
“We have quite an infrastructure set up for cruise tourism so it is a large concern for businesses. From a strategic point of view we need to look at how we can help businesses that are feeling that crunch.”
Revitalising George Town to make it more attractive to stayover visitors during the evenings, including traffic flow issues, is also a factor that could be looked at prior to constructing a berthing facility.
“If the demand was there and they could get the momentum for night-time shopping, that could help businesses, but unfortunately that brings up another big factor which is the cargo trucks going through town.”