Carnival orders largest cruise ships ever built

Cruise giant Carnival has signed a multi-billion dollar contract to build four “next generation” cruise ships that will each accommodate more than 6,000 guests and are unlikely to use tenders.

The cruise line has followed Royal Caribbean, which launched its Oasis class ships in 2009, in commissioning larger ships.

Supporters of a cruise dock in Cayman say the move will have implications for the island if it does not go ahead with the port project.

Robert Hamaty, of the Association for the Advancement of Cruise Tourism, said the Cayman Islands was already missing out on the 5,400-passenger Oasis class ships, which do not tender, and cruise past Cayman on their way to Jamaica. He said the new Carnival ships, the largest ever built, would also bypass Cayman.

He said, “I am not playing games with anybody. It is a fact that these cruise ships are not going to tender. This is the way the cruise industry is going and we are going to lose out.”

Carnival has a fleet of 24 ships worldwide and has not said where it will deploy the larger vessels.

The proposed new cruise dock would be able to accommodate two ships of Oasis class size and two other cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean and Carnival collectively account for around 80 percent of cruise passenger arrivals in Grand Cayman.

Stewart Chiron, a US based cruise industry expert who runs The Cruise Guy website, said the trend towards larger ships appeared to be continuing.

“The ships are getting bigger and there are an increasing number of ports to choose from. The new Carnival ships, like Royal Caribbean, will be forced to bypass Cayman as their ships will have too many passengers to tender. A cruise pier is imperative for Grand Cayman’s future. Cayman has worked hard improving the cruise passengers’ experience but it’s not enough.”

Mr. Hamaty and other business owners are urging government to proceed with the dock despite environmental and economic concerns recently highlighted in a consultant’s report.

The report, produced by marine engineers Baird, predicted extensive damage to coral reefs in the harbor and estimated economic losses of up to $9 million a year for water sports business in the harbor.

A petition to stop the project, launched earlier this month, had amassed almost 2,000 signatures by press time on Wednesday.

The Cayman Islands Tourism Association said in a statement that it is consulting with members and reviewing the reports before taking a position on the issue.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said in a statement in the Legislative Assembly Friday, “I acknowledge that the environmental assessment has identified several issues, so the viability and economic benefits of cruise berthing must be understood and carefully weighed against those concerns.”


  1. I have a suggestion for Mr Hamaty and his self-styled Association for the Advancement of Cruise Tourism. Put your money where your mouth is.

    If you think that the cruise dock is so important and so financially beneficial make a business case for it and then go find financial backers to fund it. I bet you will not get any serious takers, including the cruise lines, because the facts and the true economics of the project do not match your claims.

    The megaliners are floating amusement parks, designed to provide what the industry describes as a total resort experience to passengers on board. They are not designed for the traditional island hopping cruises. At best they will move cruise shippers between purpose built resorts like Labadee and Amber Cover. At worst they will spend as much time at sea as possible. If you check the schedules the old concept of a different day, a different island is rapidly being eroded.

    The other big change in recent years that has not be mentioned here is the introduction of the concept of day passes at local resorts – It is clear from that article that Grand Cayman is not exactly a prominent player in this market.

    There are a number of ways that Grand Cayman can try to improve their share of the existing cruise market but building a massive dock without any real hope of ever recouping the cost is probably not the smartest.

  2. White Star Lines built the largest "unsinkable" ship ever built – The Titanic. Which sank like a stone in the icy Atlantic in 1912. Don’t imagine that the "largest cruise ships ever built" by Carnival will be any different. Such large self-contained floating playgrounds don’t deserve a berth anywhere in the Cayman Islands. Rest assured, Mr. Hamaty, the passengers of these mega-ships will all be penny-pinchers, tightwads, and won”t be interested in going ashore and spending their dough downtown in GC.

  3. I have been visiting the Cayman Islands since the mid-1980s. Younger people have no knowledge of what 7 Mile Beach was back then. The tiny Holiday Inn stood on the beach where the Ritz Carlton now stands. And there are innumerable examples of how progress changed the face of Grand Cayman. With the changes, came extraordinary increases in tourism and the quality of lives in Cayman. Without those changes, the improvements likely would not have happened. The same is true of the cruise ship opportunities. Without improvements to the docking system, the new generations of ships will continue to pass by. In fact, many are passing by now. You either choose progress or stagnation. Which will it be?

  4. One has to ask, with the building of all these new ships, do we think that the other smaller vessels will stop coming to Cayman. Most of the smaller vessels which are designed for Island hopping will surely be in service for long time even after the new spaceships are built. Why not just focus on that business and how the cruise tourism business can enhance the Stay Over Tourism industry. Give them an experience that will make us all proud to represent Cayman and will make them want to come back and stay over.

    I also agree that it would be nice to have a Pier, however I don’t for a minute think that desire which is what it is for Cayman not a need but a desire justifies that amount of potential destruction to the marine environment. This is not like a small marina on the Brac where the impact would have been minimal, this is huge displacement of what Mother Nature built and for something of that magnitude you would best insure it’ll be worth it in the long run.

    On the other hand, I do believe that Cayman needs revenue from both Cruise and Stay Over Tourism. However spending hundreds of Millions of Dollars on a pier that will destroy multiple dive sites and a good deal of the reef, just to potentially bring in a few million dollars a year just doesn’t make sense, especially when Cayman is already deeply in debt a huge park of which is due in balloon payment in the next few years.

    Oh and by the way does the Multi-Million dollar report say who or how it’s going to be paid for ? I have to be curious if these guys ever really expected to or actually expect this to go any farther than this expensive report because there is still no way to pay for it unless they figure out a way to borrow the money. This could have all just been a 2.5 Million dollar scheme to make it seem like the government was hard at work actually planning to get a pier built, that they never really expected to make happen.

    Take a look at this, I think it explains a lot of senseless delays and impractical decisions made by politicians all over the world

  5. These ships will be bigger and feature more on-board diversions. Keeping the passengers on board and spending is the most important goal, any stops are merely optional diversions.

    Here’s an out of the box thought;-

    Legalise and licence Gambling on cruise ships in Cayman waters.

    It is generally accepted that for cruise lines, having the on-board casino closed prevents them from milking a major cash cow, and that is one of the reasons they go scurrying off into the sunset long before the actual sunset.

    Remove that constraint and the ships would be able to stay later, taking pressure off the tendering process.

    This might be a more palatable option than sacrificing 40 acres of premium underwater ecosystem to the indifferent gods worshipped by those who see their margin for growth in ever increasing quantity rather than quality.

  6. Peter Newton, I remember Grand Cayman in the days of the old Holiday Inn, before there were traffic jams in George Town and when there were no cruise ships. I remember it as a time of full, sensibly priced hotels, lively nightlife and full dive boats but I also remember the numerous businesses that have gone under since the cruise ships spoiled all that.

    However DoT spin the figures the fact is that there always has been a negative trade off between stayover visitors and cruise arrivals. Right now I would say that has already been pushed right to the limit and building a cruise dock on the very questionable premise that it might attract a few of these monster cruise ships could be enough to kill Grand Cayman as a stayover tourism and dive destination.

    The real money, and all the benefits that come with it, is derived from the people who stay on these islands in hotels and other accommodation not from the ones who pop ashore for a couple of hours to buy the odd t-shirt. If you do not believe me ask any bartender, shop assistant or water sports operator.

  7. The ships coming now bring in allot of income. Why do we need bigger ships? Cater to the smaller ones who come and focus on the stay over tourism. Mr. Hamaty is only looking at his pocket and as someone who can run whenever he feels like doesn”t have the betterment of Cayman as a whole in his interest just the betterment of his pocket and the few others who would benefit. When all the stay over tourists stop coming because of the mess caused by the proposed cruise dock. Where will the rest of us be? We don”t have anywhere to run to when the economy crashes because the stay over tourism that these island depend on is gone. Before all this progress that”s happening now went on this island was never in debt we were all happy and joblessness was something unheard of. But now there is a big problem with joblessness and crime. And what is to blame? I keep hearing oh its all because of progress and that”s just a side effect. Well if that”s what is killing us we need to take a step back and remember why people come here. Its because of the beautiful beaches and water sports and the friendly people they meet. You take that away and we loose a big portion of the tourists that come and spend the real money. Not just a few dollars while they are here for just a couple hours. I agree with most of the other comments and we need to look past the select few that will benefit from this mess and look at the bigger picture where the island as a whole benefits not just those few.

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