readers will perhaps forgive our scepticism over claims in today’s front page
story that a 75-cent gradual fee increase proposed over the next year by Cayman
Marine Services is the true reason the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association feels
the local cruise business may be “at risk”.
Cayman Marine Services, which has operated
tender boats from cruise ship to shore since 1975, has taken the pragmatic view
that discussions with the cruise industry are needed to resolve any dispute
over pricing for tendering services.
The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association’s
representative, as quoted in the article, says the association wants to
negotiate as well but notes that the impact of the fee increase would be to
erode profit for the cruise lines.
Businesspeople can usually work out
differences if the dispute is solely over monetary amounts. What is of more
concern to the Cayman Islands is whether its current cruise ship product –
considered in totality, with tender boats, the George Town harbour sans
dry-dock and the on-shore product offered – remains competitive in the global
To us, it seems that cruise ship lines
would be willing to accept a fee increase more readily in a destination where
its customers were really wanting to go.
Frankly, the fact that cruise liners have
been pulling out of Cayman is nothing new. Check out this article for just one example.
It has been well-reported that the lack of
a cruise berthing facility in Grand Cayman is hampering the country’s chances
to attract the newer, larger Oasis-class ships to our shores. We are losing
cruise ship calls to other Caribbean destinations that have vaulted ahead of us
during the 1990s and the last decade with newer facilities and better
attractions. What will happen in the coming years if Cuba is opened up to
American-based cruise lines?
The true threat to Cayman is whether our
destination can remain competitive.
If we continue to ignore our cruise ship
tourism product, it’ll go away.