Carnival raises more cruise port concerns

| 19/03/2019 | 77 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): Local activists opposed to government’s proposed cruise berthing facility have raised concerns about the latest actions of Carnival cruise line both across the region and here locally after it dropped a Caribbean island from its itineraries and pulled out of business with at least one long-standing local watersports company in the Cayman Islands. Last week Carnival, which is one of three cruise lines the Cayman tourism ministry has struck deals with, removed Antigua from its itinerary, even though it had been expected to take some 250,000 passengers over the year to the island.

While it is not clear why the cruise line has put a stop to calls at that destination, the issue appears related to allegations about anti-cruise line rhetoric by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, as well as a dispute over a new port project there that Carnival says will make its cruise ships uncompetitive.

Whatever the cause, there are mounting concerns in the Cayman Islands about this move because it demonstrates how easily things can go awry with cruise lines. A spokesperson for the Cruise Port Referendum campaign told CNS that this was another example of the potential dangers of depending on cruise lines to partially fund the costly and controversial project.

The news that Carnival is dropping Antigua follows news that the same cruise line has cancelled its long-running business arrangement with Don Foster’s Dive Cayman, one of the Cayman Islands’ oldest dive shops. It is not clear what new arrangement the cruise line has made for passengers calling here but CNS understands that it has set up its own rival dive operation with an unidentified local partner in order to cut costs.

A spokesperson for Don Foster’s confirmed that the cruise line “dropped them like a hot-potato” and pulled its business without warning at the end of last year, leaving them to find new contracts to fill the hole in their operations. The spokesperson said they were exceptionally disappointed that after years of doing business with Don Foster’s, Carnival had opted to drop them without notice.

While the arguments for and against Cayman’s proposed cruise berthing project rolls on for a number of reasons, the community continues to question the real benefit of investing so much in cruise tourism, given that 80% of tourism revenue comes from overnight guests.

Average passenger spend figures have not been confirmed by any independent sources, especially as passengers are encouraged to pre-book tours aboard ship through the cruise line and not with local operators.

Cruise passengers are putting increasing pressure on local attractions and beaches. And while government argues that cruise piers will allow ships to stay longer and passengers to get more time ashore, it is now widely believed that cruise lines are doing their best to cut the time passengers spend in ports in order to keep them on board to maximise spending on the ships instead.

In October, the Bahamas government made a decision to stop paying cruise lines to dock in Nassau.  Dionisio D’Aguilar, the country’s tourism minister, asked why they were giving incentives for people to visit and “sit on the boat, eat their food and not spend money in our country”.

Even more importantly, as Cayman becomes increasingly aware of the need to be much greener than we are at present, each cruise passenger’s carbon footprint is estimated to be roughly three times what it would be on land and have a disproportionate impact when compared to overnight guests.

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Category: Business, development, Local News, Tourism

Comments (77)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    So let me see if I can understand economics 101. A company is an entity who competes for business with other companies selling the same service. A company offers these services and gets a contract that lasts for ex amount of years. Then a new company offering the same service undercuts price and takes contract away. Some of you think its unfair because they were offering good service? I go to a bar sit down and buy a drink, the pretty sexy bartender brings the drink and charges me CI$20, I spend $200 for a nights drinking. Next friday a friend says I can save you 25% on your drinks but its a male bartender and he talks funny. Guess what? I don’t care I’m saving 25%. End of lesson. The definition of business is risk and uncertainty.
    If you want guarantees in buiness you have to come together and stick together like glue in pricing. United we stand divided we Fail!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Average passenger spend figures have not been confirmed by any independent sources, especially as passengers are encouraged to pre-book tours aboard ship through the cruise line and not with local operators.”

    What many of you don’t realize is that the cruise lines make a large portion of their revenues this way. They’ll charge for a local cruise package on board, say $100 (pre-booked), then pay a cut to the local provider (say, $50). They do this with virtually everything they do and cut deals to ensure they make a cut of the money out there. How do you think they can sell the cruise packages cheaper in some instances than hotels?

    Tip: Whoever has the most control over the cruise passengers, has the golden goose. Hint: It’s not the huge, expensive port you’re being suckered to build for them. This is a hard lesson for Antigua, and possibly Cayman if you don’t get wiser sooner.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just want clarified that, if carnival was a fear business partner with the local operators; the reasonable portion will be 50% of the value of the tour ticket.
      But unfortunately, carnival cut the cake as their own benefits, as they never lose ” pre-book package” they will take 70% or 75% of any tour ticket they sale on board. The tour operator just take what carnival decided to give, as per many of them have to accept, instead have the fear of lose their contract as they will find someone or “bring some expat” who will over devalue our product and run a tour for “quantity not quality”.

  3. Back to the basics. says:

    Money is a coward in the face of adversity. Make something serious in a crime happen to a few passengers and see how quick any cruise line will pull out and stop coming. Dock or no dock. Put money on education, trade schools, improve stay over service by educating locals how to be the best like we were in the 80’s and 90’s and create jobs for locals. When you visit an island you want to meet tje locals. We must be the only island that visitors ask where are the natives ? Oh and fix the dump. Don’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.. That how Cayman became successful in the first place!

  4. Karma soon come says:

    Anchor Tours go out of Morgans Harbor by big bus loads. Google it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not a dive company. Complaint was Don Foster lost their diving contract. Diving now seems to be handled by Cayman Diving in GT. Not a Carnival company that I am aware.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Carnival isn’t really the line that had spending customers. I’d be happy to see less carnival tourists and more of the other higher ticket lines

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dart clearly the local operator. Dart clearly driving the CIG to push this project through. So naive and foolish.

    • Anonymous says:

      No he is not…the local operator is a kid with no cruise business experience who is fronting for a Mexican Company called Tripping Cool…Anchor Tours is Tripping Cool

  7. Anonymous says:

    Most experienced travelers (read those who spend money) already know not to book with the cruise lines, but to research and book direct with local operators, getting better pricing and service. We have been doing this for years worldwide. A good operator should have no fear of competing with the cruise lines.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kind of hard to do if the local operator IS the cruise line and the unsuspecting passenger doesn’t know though.

    • Anonymous says:

      yeah and the big prominant families didnt have to fear dart when he first came. and hartman dacosta didnt have to fear that road expansion. and hobbies and books didnt have to fear books and books, and i betcha nobody would have predicted that cafe del sol would have to fear starbucks. folks we like the west indies cricket team. loss after loss but at least we still flyong the colours. last time we had a real victory here was when macdonald’s beat mcdonalds on name rights.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cool story. Shame you missed the part where each of those businesses screwed themselves, either by way of greed, incompetence or in some instances, both.

        • Anonymous says:

          Cafe Del Sol was a victim of a well connected fren an him fren dem, not a case of “screwing themselves”.

      • For real says:

        Bang on 3:09

  8. Anony says:

    The Cayman Islands have a growing group of activist who are anti cruise tourist and seem to have more knowledge on how to run this country bu no idea how to run their own lives. Maybe it is time for these activist to listen to their own advice and make and act on their own recommendations.

    Why is it that they always have solutions for other people problems and none for themselves? Why can’t they fix their own problems before they fix the countries?.

    • Anonymous says:

      I disagree that Cayman activists are anti-cruise tourist, but they are against the senseless destruction of Hog Sty Bay and the cruise port development which will cause untold and unknown environmental damage, cost millions of dollars, and still not guarantee a stable and reliable pipeline of cruise tourist line of business.

      I think solutions that propose limited destruction such as a floating dock or deeper water piers with bridges over the reefs, or even continued boat tendering for smaller cruise ships, which happens to follow the current trend of cruise ship development, are all reasonable and logical.

      Currently, Cayman is in the driving seat. The sooner we realize that the cruise ships need Cayman and it’s beauty and resources rather than Cayman needs the cruise ship business the better off the island will be.

  9. Anonymous says:

    When people produces nothing useful in this world, they become activists.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Losing Carnival would seem a huge plus for Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please remember that “Carnival” includes Princess and Holland America among outer upscale lines. Be careful of what you wish for.

  11. Jonny Boy says:

    To answer the question of who they partnered with here. Its a company called Anchor Tours, which is just a front company for a pre existing Carnival Company out of Mexico called Tripping Cool. The local persons involved here are just puppets for Carnival to use to get what they want.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for that information.

      • Anonymous says:

        And if it is a front as described then it is likely unlawful under Cayman law, but since no one ever enforces our laws, we are screwed.

        • Anonymous says:

          Not if they have an Local Companies Control Law licence. Be interesting to see how they got one mind, given water sports is meant to be a restricted profession when it comes to granting additional TBLs.

    • Anonymous says:

      So Caymanians selling out other Caymanians for a quick buck? That’s gotta be a first haha

    • Anonymous says:

      hmm. Same company that was involved with the set up on Smith Cove recently, isn’t it? Or was it the set up in West Bay?

  12. Anonymous says:

    “passengers to get more time ashore” so why at present will they queue for an hour or more to get off shore?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Our government don’t want to form any connection with any eastern Caribbean countries because these knuckleheads think they have all the answers. Just like the way they won’t even try to liaise with the OTs over this EU and FAC rubbish. The other OTs at least have the balls to debate all this stuff and form a consensus. Here everything is treated so much like an afterthought that I fear the EU and the FAC/UK will come and take over before they even realise what has happened.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know if we are to be safeguarded against them having any control over the cargo portion of the port? Can you imagine if they somehow controlled any of our shipping imports like our food supply coming in for the supermarkets??

  15. Jotnar says:

    I am no supporter of the piers, but to be fair a pro pier supporter could argue the opposite – that Carnival’s action in dropping Antigua wouldn’t have happened if Carnival had been hand cuffed to a deal in which they had to operate there for 25 years to get their money spent on building the pier back. And whether they had a pier or not would make no difference to cutting local operators off at the knees if economically advantageous to them. Article just a tad biased, which is unfortunate, since there are no shortage of points to be made without limiting your self to one side of the story.

    • Anonymous says:

      ‘If Carnival had been hand cuffed to a deal in which they had to operate there for 25 years to get their money spent on building the pier back.’ Two word response to that, ‘Never happen!’ Anyone in cruise line management who signed up to a deal like that would be sacked so fast their feet wouldn’t touch the floor on the way out. In order to remain viable cruise lines have to be flexible and literally flow with the tide. If a destination becomes unpopular or unprofitable, or somewhere better opens up (like Cuba!) in the area, they’ll move on. If passengers decide (and this is already happening) they don’t want to go ashore and prefer to stay onboard enjoying the facilities on the ships they will stay at sea. Cruise lines will never make a long-term commitment to anything they don’t own and control because they can’t afford to. That’s the problem we have to face.

  16. Anonymous says:

    You cannot be a reasonable and neutral observer in this debate and still believe the cruise ship sponsored dock is a good idea for this country. This is making a deal with the devil. They will exploit and pillage without thought or care. People in favour of this project have to have some kind of agenda, probably personal financial benefit. Spend any extra money fixing the dump, sorting infrastructure and making the country sustainable for future generations to enjoy.

    • Anonymous says:

      This government is no stranger to doing deals with the devil as long as the right people are paid.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It’s not unusual for companies to drop vendors, it happens all the time across all industries. Our clients regularly change vendors as part of a cyclical review (every 5 years) of who they are doing business with. This ensures that they are receiving services at a competitive price.

    Carnival still needs a dive company, but they likely arranged a better deal with someone else.

    If you have clients the onus is on you to keep them. Don’t get mad if you lose one, instead question why you lost them in the first place.

    This same logic could be applied to the Cayman Cruise Industry as a whole. Carnival should be viewed as a client. If we don’t keep them happy, they will bolt.

    • Jonathan Rivers says:

      They dropped Don Fosters because they set up their own company here on island. Don Fosters was getting paid way less than they should of in the first place to run Carnival tours and gave excellent service to their guests despite this. They are looking at ways to push out all local companies not just one. For example and I quote a top ranking Carnival official while she was here on a visit “when the dock is built I dont want any of these local vendors out here anymore”. This is the kind of mentality they have. The product we have should fetch top dollar not the lowest price from a company not up to par. They are looking for ways to devalue our product and they are getting away with it. So as to why they lost them in the first place the answer is clear. Carnival only wants to profit from our island not give any thing back to it. No one at Don Fosters is mad, as a matter of fact they are using it as a example of how to get better clients, which is what Cayman needs too.

      • Anonymous says:

        “For example and I quote a top ranking Carnival official while she was here on a visit “when the dock is built I dont want any of these local vendors out here anymore”.” Really? So you were standing right there when this Carnival official said this? Did she carry on about how lazy West Indians are? Did she insult Cayman heritage as well? Might as well throw out a bunch of evil racist and atheist comments she made. Its a bit hard to believe that any business rep would publicly make a comment like that on a potential future client visit. At least anywhere other than in a trolls head.

        • Anonymous says:

          She must be your mother for you to be so defensive.
          The cruise lines only interested in the profit that the can make.

        • Jonathan Rivers says:

          By the way, I was standing rite next to them and no they didnt add any racist or derogatory comments to it like you have in your comment above, no wonder you stay under an anonymous name. Do you think I would have made my name public in the comment if I wasnt sure of what I heard? I would have remained anonymous as you chose to do in your unwarranted comment.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes I am sure the service must have been excellent and the price competitive.

        Definitely makes sense for them to drop a vendor meeting all of their needs, invest a bunch of capital, source some local owners and get into a business outside of their core operations. Obviously they weren’t getting what they wanted.

        Why are people so quick to jump to conspiracy theories and assume everyone is evil and out to get them.

        Just follow logic, it usually leads to the correct conclusion.

      • Michel says:

        Spot on Jonathan

  18. Anonymous says:

    Which Watersports Company did they partner with?
    Sounds fishy…

  19. Anonymous says:

    First of all, let us highlight the fact Carnival’s decision was in reaction to Antigua calling them out for their exploitative methods within our region.

    Apparently CIG is in favour of leading us to the slaughter.

    Secondly, pay close attention to claims of companies like Carnival ending long-standing contracts with on-land entities – only to then enter industry as a new competitor.

    Projects like Cayman’s proposed CBF do away with the protective buffer that is tendering and will allow these monstrosities to directly connect with our land mass.

    Are we aware of how that would simplify logistic challenges for the cruise lines in respect to transporting large quantities of equipment, e.g., scuba gear, scooters, bicycles, segways, tour buses, etc.?

    We are being encouraged to construct these destructive, imposing, and largelyunwanted piers, and I fear not enough of us are questioning the possible reasons why.

    – Whodatis

    *This development is yet another great reason why we need stronger ties with our fellow island nations.

    Together we stand. Divided we fall.

    • Jotnar says:

      Whilst the track record on enforcement is not good, in theory the requirement to have a trade and business licence would prevent the cruise lines doing onshore business – the physical barrier posed by tenders versus a dock are secondary.

      In any event, being completely cynical I think the likes of Carnival would rather have a local operator take all the investment cost, the operating risk – like passengers drowning or having heart attacks on tours – and the headaches of running a business on shore and then take nearly every cent of profit anyway through cut throat pricing than set up onshore businesses.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with who… in additional concern is the single mindedness being applied by CIG to a large vocal number of citizens. Is there anything in this project of which we are unaware? A greater transparency as well as discussion certainly is in order. Forcing the opposition to go the legal route would not look good to the cruise ship companies.
      Food for thought.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Simple fact – cruise lines can do what the heck they like so not only is nothing ever guaranteed but you can bet their lawyers will build convenient ‘get out’ clauses into any agreement they make. Be very careful here because if we get it wrong we’ll not only get royally shafted but could end up having to compensate the cruise line(s) for the experience.

    • Heller says:

      Karma can be a mean bitch what goes around comes around. There is no need to fear The Jnity Gubernment is here to feed the people in every way possible. So those who raped the golden cow for years and that are not of the Syndicate ha, sorry fe moga Dog moga dog turn round bite ya. YEAH

  21. Anonymous says:

    “but CNS understands that it (Carnival Cruise Lines) has set up its own rival dive operation with an unidentified local partner in order to cut costs”. So I guess this will be the beginning of Asian divemasters and watersports operators in the Cayman Islands?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh no! The new Asian divemasters will replace all the local caymanian divemasters and take all those jobs from Caymanians! Wait – oh, that’s right – being a divemaster is beneath Caymanians.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Everyone is cutting out the middle man, its business. No need for Don Foster’s, just set up your own dive shop and eat both ways! They should open their own jewelers and restaurants too, no need for Kirks or Margaritaville!

    You see why there is NO certainty a new port will make a difference?!?!?!?!

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh they will set up their own jewelers on the dock… The Kirkonnell’s are just too foolish and gullible to realize what’s really going on.

      • Anonymous says:

        Try arrogant & greedy. Just wait until Dart gets CHEC in here and watch what happens to the construction industry and building suppliers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said. Finally someone with their eyes wide open. I wager to say you are not in our current Gov’t – as the just don’t get it!!!!.

      Well I hope they don’t get it and not the opposite where they are benefiting from it – but I’m guessing it’s the latter not the former. :o(

  23. Anonymous says:

    Corruption is endemic in the Cayman Islands.

    • Johnny Rotten says:

      It’s normal, business as usual, good ole boys club, no one bats an eyelid, this is how it go. Affects all levels of private and public business. Just look at how many one time drug runners and money launderers from the 80’s are now in legit business. To the north these scoundrels would be locked up and still sweating out behind bars, but have had their cake any ate it long time ago here. The squeaky facade of Cayman is still strong and minty though.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you meant pandemic.

    • Anonymous says:

      Enough talk. When will the petition for a referendum,be presented to government? It’s time to call the question. This is taking far too long.

  24. Anonymous says:

    This project has disaster written all over it. Somebody must be getting paid something nice under the table for CIG to remain fully committed to this train wreck just waiting to happen.

    • Anonymous says:

      You know for a fact that palms were greased a long time ago hence their bloody-minded determination to push this through

  25. Anonymous says:

    quis custodiet ipsos custodes seems appropriate at this time. Who watches the watchmen?

  26. Anonymous says:

    If Carnival can do this to Mervyn Cumber and Don Foster’s Dive Cayman by dropping them like a hot potato what makes your government and GT retailers think the same will not be done to them?

  27. Caveat Emptor says:

    This government led by Alden McLaughlin McKeeva Bush and Moses Kirkonnell are foolish and arrogant enough to think the cruise lines will not or cannot do the same things to the Cayman Islands.

    The Unity government are surrendering all control and revenues to the cruise lines for 25 years giving them total control with the ability to hold the country and tourism economy hostage unless the government satisfies every demand made by the cruise lines for a cruise berthing project Cayman does not need and cannot afford.

    • Anonymous says:

      “This government led by Alden McLaughlin McKeeva Bush and Moses Kirkonnell ” one name left off this list is Dart. If you don’t believe that Dart is part of all of this you are selecting to be blind.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Ohmygosh. Let me guess who the unidentified local partner is!? Wow.

    Signs of things to come.

    Stop the port.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you suppose the unidentified local partner doesn’t yet even have the proper licensing, but soon will? And it will be a first class operation, too, won’t it? Thus marginalising yet another Caymanian business.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cartel comes to mind!!

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