Poor weather conditions in January and February caused Cayman to miss out on nearly 54,000 cruise ship passengers, and as a result, millions of dollars in revenue.
According to Joseph Woods, manager of cruise operations for the Port Authority, Cayman missed out on 32,026 cruise ship passengers in January and 21,899 passengers in February as ships passed by as a result of the choppy water and high waves in the port.
“The weather has not been kind to us the last few weeks,” Captain Marvin’s president Ronnie Anglin said. “The cruise ship industry is about 30 percent of Captain Marvin’s business, but that’s a 30 percent we can’t do without. When you take a lick like that, it affects everybody.”
The weather also forced Captain Marvin’s to cancel its Stingray City tours on several days.
Mr. Woods estimated the total revenue lost for the island due to the diversion in January and February amounts to approximately $5 million.
Chris Kirkconnell, vice president of operations at Kirk Freeport, said the amount of money lost could be twice that.
“January is one of the highest volume cruise ship months and one of the higher ticket months in the year, so losing any days in January makes an impact more than any other time of the year,” Mr. Kirkconnell said.
He said that the “average spend” – the amount of money cruise ship passengers spend on island – is considerably higher in January than in other months.
He thinks a cruise dock could alleviate some of the problems caused by poor weather, and that there were “definitely” days in January and February when ships passed by Cayman when they shouldn’t have had to. However, he noted that “there will be some days where no matter what you do, the ships can’t stop in town.”
Tortuga Rum Company President Robert Hamaty said missing out on thousands of cruise ship passengers in January and February was “a big loss” for Cayman.
“From a merchant’s point of view, it’s a big loss because all the tours get cancelled, the shops don’t do any business,” Mr. Hamaty said. “We’re talking about a very large amount of money.”
He agreed that if Cayman had a cruise dock, some of the diverted ships could have stopped, but also that there are just some days when “it’s unavoidable” that ships are forced to pass by the island.
Mr. Hamaty, who is also the chairman of the Royal Watler Tenants Association, said the terminal lost out on even more cruise ship passengers beyond those on the diverted ships in January and February as tenders could not operate to the north of Hog Sty Bay and boats had to go to the protected north and south terminals instead.
TOP PHOTO: High seas and strong winds in recent weeks have led to cruise ships being unable to dock in George Town. – Photo: Kelsey Jukam