Land & Sea Co-op raises concerns over Carnival

| 01/04/2019 | 59 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cruise ship in George Town Harbour

(CNS): As the Cayman Islands Government continues to justify its controversial cruise berthing project with claims it is needed to support local tour operators, one of the main associations representing those involved in the front-line of the industry has raised concerns about one of the cruise lines that government is planning to partner with. Captain Bryan Ebanks, a board member of the Caymanian Land & Sea Cooperative Society, has written an open letter to the tourism ministry urging officials to pay attention to Carnival’s potential manipulation of operators and the risk posed to their livelihoods.

Following recent news that the cruise line has stopped doing business with Don Foster’s Dive Cayman, which has led to the long-standing and well-respected operator having to downsize the company, Ebanks is warning that other operators are also going to be affected because Carnival is creating its own company in Cayman with a local partner. This business is linked to existing operations in Mexico and is likely to capture a huge chunk of the local market.

“The timing of Carnival taking over the watersports through their operative coincides with the government request for them to finance the construction of a pier,” Ebanks wrote in the letter, which is addressed to Ministry of Tourism Chief Officer Stran Bodden. “Never before have they tried to undermine the local operators and grab control in this manner.”

Ebanks, who has been in the tourism business for decades, said that he is “majorly concerned about the future of the Cayman cruise ship contractors” because of the power and influence the cruise lines have to undermine local operators. He warned that the move by Carnival to partner with just one Caymanian will enable them to funnel all of the onshore tour business through its Mexican office.

“I believe it is the responsibility of our representatives to protect an industry that was built by the first arrival Caymanians, and to protect our economy from those who would seek to deprive Caymanians of their dreams through their backdoor dealings,” the local captain said in the open letter.

“It is apparent that if something is not done, the Land and Sea Cooperative, which the government has spent so much money in assisting, will also suffer the same fate,” he stated. “I am hoping to find out which one of our representatives is willing to fight for us before it is too late. At present, there are buses and boats being bought for people who have no ability to finance such equipment. There are others to come.”

If Carnival draws up agreements with local operators and buys them new buses and equipment, as it tried to do in Roatan, this could easily undermine all our local businesses, Ebanks explained. In Roatan the operators fought back and the government backed them, he said, adding, “This tells us that their government cares about their people. I am hoping ours do too.”

Last month a spokesperson from Don Foster’s confirmed that its contract with Carnival had been cancelled and that it was a significant blow to the operator. Although it has not closed its doors yet, the company will be forced to sell some boats, layoff staff and downsize.

The business Fosters was doing with Carnival has been diverted to the local company it has established here, and despite having a local Cayman partner, the operation is controlled and financed by the cruise line.

“They took all of our tours away,” Cally Clark, Don Foster’s office manager, said, explaining they had given it to the new ‘local’ company. “That way they can dictate the pricing paid to the tour operator and make more profits for Carnival. They have imported a Mexican manager to run things.”

Carnival operates a number of cruise lines that regularly call on Grand Cayman, including Holland America, Princess Cruise Lines and other smaller lines, in addition to the well-known Carnival brands, all of which bring a significant percentage of Cayman’s cruise visitors.

“This is, in effect, putting Caymanians out of work,” Clark said, pointing out that this is all about benefiting Carnival and not Cayman’s own tourism sector.

Letter from Captain Bryan Ebanks to Tourism Ministry about Carnival cruise line, 12 March 2019

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (59)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    As a member of the land & sea Coop I can sincerely say that Bryan Ebanks does not speak for the majority of the Coop’s membership and he and the rest of the Board has done absolutely nothing for the Coop since taking over in 2016 after former Chairman Mr. Shaun Ebanks who was the best Chairman Land & Sea Coop ever had and one who made great progress with the association. Furthermore where is the proof of the claims Bryan is making about another local company? What we operators need to do is come together and create a proper price structure for ship pre-booked tours and tell ships hey pay or don’t go.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Bryan Ebanks is an antiport person. He does not represent the majority of the Land and sea operators. I want to “see” proof. Anyone can say anything, where is the evidence? There is a Mexican company that owns Dolphin Discovery and Dolphin Cove. They were never held by a Cruise line. Don Foster dive company is owned by another foreigner, not a Cruise line. Anchors is owned by a Caymanian if he has a foreigner partner; it is not a Cruise line. Bryan needs to show proof.
    Companies working with Cruise lines get 50-60 percent of the ticket price. That’s why I know he’s full of nonsense. They already get a profit without “investing.” Businesses have a choice to seek Cruise business.
    I have been working in this industry, and I realize newcomers like Bryan have to accept that the youth of Cayman need to get a slice of this pie. Why he has picked on this West Bay individual is beyond me. He and I are getting older and have no kids who are interested in the Cruise business. I expect very soon to either sell out or hire a young Caymanian to lease my business. I have no business dealings with Anchor I don’t see any opportunities at this time.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Where exactly are you getting your figures from? Any company here that can show me they are getting 50-60% of any payment from a Carnival Cruise tour is welcome to show it to me please. If getting $22 from a tour that they are selling on the ship for $80 is 50% then my math teacher was from another planet. The companies here that deal with cruise lines are fully invested but make nothing while the Cruise Lines make majority of the money. They have to provide their own transport, insurance and maintain fleets and staff out of an already low payment. Carnival Cruise lines are looking to devalue the product we have not add value to it. Operators here should be able to demand 50% of the total payments for a tour because the work that is going into it is worth it. The value of our product has already been dropped by unscrupulous businesses who only want to get the tours thinking they will become over night millionaires, but I have seen many who after underbidding the competition to please the cruise line, have had to drop the same tour and in some cases close companies because they could not afford to run it. Little did they know that the previous company was already struggling to run the tour on what they were getting. The issue here is not the Caymanian partner of “Tripping Cool” (Anchor Tours) but the company itself. It is not a Caymanian Company it is a Carnival Company based out of Mexico. So why are companies being imported to run tours here now? Dont we have enough local companies to run these tours? This is what is going t o happen to all of our operators if Carnival has its way. The Caymanian here is just a puppet for them. They have their own people in charge. The Cruise lines that do come here and pay their operators a fair price (there are a few) should be the ones we are trying to pursue if we are looking to expand Cruise Tourism. Carnival Cruise lines are a huge Corporation who only cares how much money they can make not how much money is put into any country they visit.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I hope this will stop this arguement. But we get and you should know, they charge US$75 for adults we get US$34. So we get 45.3% they get 54.6%

        • Anonymous says:

          You miss the point completely. Is it Carnival you getting these rates from? If it is your time is limited you will soon be phased out for the cheaper company as well. Yes there are cruise lines who come here that pay fair rates. I said that in my previous reply. These are the ones we need to focus on for our cruise business. The issue here is Carnival corporation who control the majority of the ships coming here and have now set up their own company to take over from the local operators and who is not interested in the future of our country just how much they can milk out of it. Dart himself has plans to kill the buses/taxis by using ferries to take people directly to his beach facilities when and if the terminal is built so those guys are in for a shock as well.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Business is business…that is a common phrase. Changing vendors do happen and the freedom to choose who you do business with is paramount. However not many people are aware that the business practices of this cruise line, without been illegal, (but borderline) are morally and ethically horrendous. They have stated many times they are here to make money and money only, otherwise they will go somewhere else (and “we have many options to go to”). Slowly but surely they have transformed the business in a monopoly and we bought into it. If you pay the proper fees, your business will be “Cruise recommended”. Their on board sellers can make you or brake you based on what operators they are told to sell.. Imagine you selling your home through an agent and you get the 6% and the agent takes the other 94 %. Most tours sold on board, the operators get 25 % or less. Operators assume all the risks and are pressed to be responsible for anything that might happen with a guest while taking a tour including medical expenses even when the situation was from a guest in poor medical condition unknown to the operators. There are many factors like that. Their business practices are very shady…shame on us for buying into it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      How do we characterize “the business” of secret regimes signing secret deals with bad actors giving them preferential half century terms to run around with their billions deploying their usual monopolistic tactics and crushing local businesses? Do our leaders not study the net job reductions and local business destruction in similar markets, or are the political inducements so lucrative that they disregard fact?

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      I have to agree with Captain Bryan Ebanks 110%.
      I wish that the Government and all the Watersports Operators would also listen to him . See what the cruise line did to Don Foster Diving , What and who will stop them from doing the same thing to anyone else that they deal with .
      I say boycotting them is the best thing that everyone can do for their business future .

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    • Anonymous says:

      7:41 Your English may need a bit of work but you definitely got all that right. There’s one example I’m aware of where following a fatality involving a cruise ship booked dive trip the head of the company’s security, a retired cop, flew in and tried to force the dive operator into assuming full responsibility. He picked on the wrong guy and was damn lucky to get away from the meeting still walking – that’s the only way to deal with these scumbags. Fact of life – if a watersports operation is good enough it will survive without the cruise ships and more than a few have gone that way with no problems. Don Fosters had simply been cashing in on the cruise ship cattle boat business for years and it turned round and bit them in the arse, get used to it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Carnival is not the answer, we need the more expensive lines tied in to the port not the cheap ships

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  5. Jotnar says:

    So much for the idea that the cruise piers are essential to protecting the earnings of taxi drivers and water sports operators.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    So how did this Mexican get a work permit to run the company. Surely there must be a suitably qualified caymanian.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Stop spreading rumours. Don Foster’s Dive is not closing.

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    • The Scientist says:

      Nobody said they were. If you read the article you would see that they are having to downsize, not closing.

  8. Anonymous says:

    There is a lot of misinformation being spread. Don Foster’s Dive has NOT closed it’s doors and continues to operate as Cayman’s premier dive company. Please get the facts before posting incorrect information.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Easy enough to know who they are referring to – Ebanks, who has been in the tourism business for decades, said that he is “majorly concerned about the future of the Cayman cruise ship contractors” because of the power and influence the cruise lines have to undermine local operators. He warned that the move by Carnival to partner with just one Caymanian will enable them to funnel all of the onshore tour business through its Mexican office.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    For years Land & Sea has been turning a blind eye to blatant exploitation of local watersports businesses by the cruise lines – maybe seeing Don Fosters canned has been a wake up call? Bet right now they’re all wondering who will be next to get the chop and starting to get nervous.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Moses is still in the wilderness.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Moses Alden McKeeva do not care about regular working class Caymanians they are owned my merchant class and dart. What more proof do you need to understand all they care about his their survival and their special friends?

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Private businesses sign business contracts all over the world and there is no guarantee in life that those contracts will go on forever and life is lived happily ever after. That’s just the way things work. Businesses (and people) have to move on and find other ways of earning that lost income. Sitting around moping and asking for the government to step in and make things better for you is not going to get you anywhere in life, whether you’re a “first arrival Caymanian” or a 10th arrival one.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    The cruise lines operate like powerful mobsters, and we don’t need any MORE of THAT, thank you. It just figures that the only people speaking their language are members of this Unity alliance that coincidentally refuse to follow procedure, uphold civil equality, account for spending, drive soberly, or enact Standards in Public Life Law.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    All local taxi drivers should pay special attention to this economic lesson. In other Cruise Liner Port Towns, the tragedy that unfolds is that small business owners invariably get replaced by bigger bulk liner-owned businesses which don’t need to run at a profit or make any money. This playbook repeats itself in cruise ports over and over (Cozumel, Belize, Falmouth, you name it). The big liners routinely replace the regular 7-10 passenger taxi drivers with their own 40 passenger discount coaches which defray their bulk transport costs and move more people, more efficiently – it’s already starting to happen with transport migrating to locally-owned transport firms that have imported barely-roadworthy buses from countries that no longer allow them on their roads. Personally, I’d prefer taxis to the coaches now pulling G’s, racing dangerously around our roads, heeling over in our roundabouts, and/or crashing into buildings. They always seem to be in a panic to make some safety-conflicted artificial merchant deadline. The Port will galvanize upland priorities and transport will move to the next phase with massive discounting thrust on these operators, and progressively reassign to their own loss-leader fleets, until gradually no locally-owned transport remains – their goal eventually being to control the quality of all upland risks including transport. They have a longer business horizon that most local businesses. They’ll wait it out until they win. Transport is among the first casualties when provincially-minded governments accept piecemeal incentives and sign agreements letting the liners call the shots.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Wait till all the taxi driver puppets get screwed over by tour buses owned by the cruise lines!! Then youll hear some crying.

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      • Anonymous says:

        When they see the votes going the other way and the golden goose of a fat cheque every month disappear you wait and see them change there tune.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    And from what I have just heard from a very reliable source, they avoided duty on all their gear/equipment by bringing it in off a cruise ship!! Plan on that happening ALL the time.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Come on that’s just scaremongering we all know there is no way Customs would miss this. Yes it did come in via the tender’s.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Carnival gets the money and we get the problems. Im sure more cruise lines will follow their lead.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because you have no money, no experience, and corrupt leadership you can do nothing but get in the way.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    “This tells us that their government cares about their people. I am hoping ours do too.”

    Bobo if you going to hold your breath for that then you better grab a few of them now unused dive tanks because you’re going to need them.

    As long as the money rolls in to a particular group of these worthless, corrupt and waste of oxygen politicians then NOTHING is going to change and you will see how much the CIG cares about it’s people if you haven’t noticed already.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Quit your whining as all of you voted them in and these are the results. Get used to it as this is the greedy Cayman Islands!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Umm the Morons in charge that are from West Bay I DID NOT vote for. And as for why they were voted in? It wasn’t mostly greedy, it was a sheep mentality. Too many sheep in West Bay.

        And as for whining? I am simply stating a fact, the person who wrote the letter in the first place is whining.

        F’n Muppet

        Muppet ‘Head’ Hunter

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      • Anonymous says:

        It was either them or McKeeva….which would you trust more .?

      • Anonymous says:

        No, we didn’t!!! Unity is a coalition alliance of losing parties voted OUT last election!!! It was Helen and FCO that acceded this undemocratic regime.

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  19. anon says:

    Who is the local partner?

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    • Anonymous says:

      None of your dam business! We must respect the privacy of people who are doing business here. Maybe if you local companies would charge fair rates then this would not happen. Why do you think Mr Dart is bringing in CHEC? It is to get very cost effective building done and great prices on building materials. I for one can not wait. Thank you Unity Team for getting these things done!

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    • Anonymous says:

      The son of someone that works at customs from what I understand.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is exactly the right question to be asking. It is unfortunate that Don Fosters has lost a contract, but if he has lost it to a company owned by a Caymanian, then what exactly is government to do about that?

      The issue here is not whether the cruise industry is a good business (it is) but about the practice of fronting.

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    • Anonymous says:

      12:09 A real Caymanian what next?

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      • Anonymous says:

        The biggest problem on the island is the influx of Jamaicans and other riff-raff foreigners coming here. We just keep letting these people live here and all they do is commit crimes and destroy property values by turning the areas they live into dumps. Sorry. Truth hurts.

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        • Cess Pita says:

          10.39pm you are the perfect model of a racist Caymanian. I have lived here for decades, and let me tell you, houses would not have been built, new roads constructed, automobles repaired, garbage collected, families assisted by helpers, school pupils taught, hospital patients assisted by nurses,and many other essential needs of the community, without Jamaicans.
          If you want the truth, reread my first sentence.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is what I want to know. What’s the connection?

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