Editorial for 07 January: Nowhere cruises a threat

Imagine us standing on shore and waving as cruise ships sail
past sandy beaches.

It’s not a happy scenario to consider, but one that could
happen; mainly because of two separate things.

For starters, the Cayman Islands is lagging behind other
Caribbean destinations in that we have never made the commitment to cruise ship
owners and passengers to improve our product by building proper berthing

Secondly, cruise ships are now looking to portless cruises;
these cruises to nowhere would just take people on voyages across the ocean
without stopping at any ports because the ships have enough on them to keep
people entertained.

The ships’ owners would save money on fuel and port costs,
increase their onboard revenues and have happy passengers.

Don’t scoff. It’s already been suggested to one cruise line
CEO who didn’t baulk at the idea.

Last week we learned that Carnival won’t be bringing in two
of its larger ships. The decision has been blamed on a fee increase from a
Cayman tender company, but it’s really just a play by the Florida Caribbean
Cruise Association and cruise line owners to force the Cayman Islands into
building berthing facilities.

Frankly, if the Cayman Islands was truly serious about
cruise ships, a facility would already be in place.

Cruise lines are building and launching bigger, newer ships
that pack more cabins into less space. While there appears to be a glut of
cruise ships out there, industry figures don’t show a slowdown in cruise ship
travel any time soon. We would like to know how the Cayman Islands government
is going to attract these newer, larger ships that carry more and more people.

According to a Page 1 story today, the shops at the harbour
front have seen flat sales flat with some owners warning that the steady
decline in cruise ship arrivals has hurt everyone. We don’t know where
government is going to get money at this juncture to shore up the cruise ship
tourism market. We’re forbidden to borrow. But something has to be done before
the harbour front becomes a ghost town.