CTO figures place Cayman 3rd in cruise league

| 11/11/2019 | 41 Comments
Cayman News Service
MSC Meraviglia will visit George Town for the first time this December

(CNS): The Cayman Islands was the third most popular destination for cruise tourists across the Caribbean in the first half of 2019, according to the latest figures from the Cruise Tourism Organization (CTO). The region overall enjoyed a buoyant first six months, and by the end of June, before being hit by Hurricane Dorian in late August, the Bahamas had 2.8 million cruise passenger visitors, the most in the region, while Cozumel had 2.4 million and Cayman had one million.

Once again the government’s insistence that Cayman’s cruise sector will die unless the cruise piers are built in George Town is not supported by statistics. Cayman is enjoying better cruise numbers than popular destinations such as St Maarten, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the US Virgin Islands.

The Cayman Islands has already had more than 1.4 million cruise visitors, as of the end of October, based on the port authority arrival figures and Department of Tourism statistics. Tuesday is scheduled to be the busiest day of the year so far, with more than 18,600 passengers scheduled to call on George Town.

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And if the ships expected to call on Grand Cayman remain on schedule for November and December, Cayman will end 2019 with another significant year for cruise arrivals with well over $1.8 million visitors.

A brand new cruise vessel, operated by MSC Cruises, will make its debut in Cayman before the year is out. The MSC Meraviglia, which has a gross tonnage of 171,598 and a capacity for 4,500 passengers, will pull into George Town Harbour for the first time on 4 December and will continue to call on Cayman regularly throughout the season.

MSC Cruises, the fastest growing cruise line in the world which is increasing its fleet from 17 to 25 ships over the next eight years, has stated that it has no problem tendering its larger ships.

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (41)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The total number might be high but the overall quality is not there without the big ships. We would even be better off with less cruisers if we were getting the higher quality ones but we can’t do that without a dock.

  2. Anonymous says:

    1:28 ‘But they do produce a ‘closed economy’ where more of the tourist benefit is held within the AI resort than spread out among a host of businesses.’ That is exactly what I suspect DoT’s logic is and it’s rather short-sighted. Bluntly, they don’t see a percentage in AI for their friends and families.

    AI resorts employ local workers (and normally have a lot more staff than you find in a hotel) who spend their wages with local businesses. They buy their supplies from local businesses. They source services like power and water from local businesses. They employ local businesses for building and building maintenance work. They use local businesses for transportation and tourist services. Somebody doesn’t snap their fingers and create somewhere like Sandals out of thin air, there has to be local infrastructure to support it.

    Just because certain people aren’t going to get what they see as ‘their’ cut from a project isn’t a very sound reason to block it.

    • Anonymous says:

      All of that internal re-circulation of tourist money applies just as much to a tourist product spread out between a larger number of local vendors.

      AI) total on-island cost $1,000, all paid to one company (who then pays their workers, etc.)
      CI) total on-island cost $1,100, all paid to various companies (who then pay their workers, etc.)

      The only advantage would be if you were right that an AI operation will somehow involve more people than the alternative. Little Cayman ‘lodges’ are the closest to AI operations that the Cayman Islands have. There the bellman doubles as the taxi man, i.e., he takes the lodge bus comes and picks me up then takes my luggage to the room for me. The AI operation has effectively halved the number of persons making money of of this single tourist. Better for the tourist, yes. Better for the economy as a whole?
      (LC lodges, given their size, obviously have to do this because they don’t get enough tourists at one time to justify both a bellman for them and a taxi driver for the island. So its comparing oranges to tangerines but still, I hope, a useful analogy.)

  3. Anonymous says:

    As inconvenient as this data point seems, FCCA and CTO are for-profit pyramid shams/subscription clubs – helmed by private conflicted-millionaire marketing lobbyists, created by the liners themselves. Don’t expect honest or impartial data from any of them! Always an angle being played, and a Caribbean member business being duped! That’s the racket they are in.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So we are already the third most visited cruise destination in the region. Why not leave that part of the industry alone, and concentrate on climbing the stayover ranks, which is a type of investment that will benefit locals too.

  5. Anonymous says:

    To quote the former leader of the opposition “sink the dock”

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is getting tiresome.

  7. Anonymous says:

    WE are the best destination but have the worst port. doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. We need to fix that, BUILD THE DOCK!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      you are such an idiot!

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps we are the best destination because we don’t have a dock. Instead, we have a memorable little tender ride into a colourful harbour, on the edge of which you can snorkel in beautiful blue waters amongst fish and coral.

  8. VOTE NO says:

    Read the open letter from Guy Harvey.

    What the hell is this government really thinking about?

    Everyone can see this port is a terrible idea that is not needed except for Alden McLaughlin, Moses Kirkconnell and those elected in government that are either blind, deaf or robots programmed to ignore the will of the people. Stop this madness and vote no against this government and the port.


    • Anonymous says:

      For some reason even though Guy Harvey makes some good arguments he loses credibility when he tries to sell us the tenders as an option for mega ships. They have been sailing past us for over 10 years now and that will not change unless we get a dock.

      • Anonymous says:

        So the bit about MSC not having an issue with tendering their mega ship is what? Proof that the other cruise lines have been feeding us a load of bull to get what they want by saying they can’t tender their mega ships? Anyway who cares if the boat carry’s 3.800 passengers or 4,500, there are only so many mega ships that will come.

      • Anonymous says:

        7:44 The mega ships will never come here in sufficient numbers to justify the dock. They’re floating resorts that make most of their money at sea, not island hoppers.

      • Anonymous says:

        Good! Those things are garbage. Do we want 20,000 people walking around from one ship? No! I already can’t get from my house to my child’s school in less than an hour when it’s 5 miles away, what the XXXX is going to happen when we have 1000 more passengers per square inch then already necessary? Plus they don’t even spend their money here so what are you talking about? A beergarita from palms isn’t helping any of us out. What we need is to invest in stay over tourism not disgusting cruise shippers. VOTE NO!

      • Anonymous says:

        The “mega ships” don’t exist people. There is one ship that doesn’t come here now, that might if we build the piers. The rest of this is just about cruise lines preferring piers to tendering, businesses wishing on a prayer that this somehow brings more business, and government people and compromised politicians who just can’t accept that their grand scheme is not popular or necessary.

        Once you know that this is all about one ship, you cannot support the piers anymore unless you are stupid or corrupt.

    • Anonymous says:

      Guy Harvey his artwork and name is plastered all over cruise ships.

      • Anonymous says:


      • Anonymous says:

        We didn’t say we don’t want cruise ships here we just said we don’t think we need to invest in a stupid dock that’s not gonna bring us any more money and just put us more in debt. Also destroy our own gold mine: reefs and SMB. Great, Guy Harvey’s on a couple ships… more visibility to the Cayman Islands, awesome.

      • Anonymous says:

        What is your point?

  9. Caveat Emptor says:

    Once again the government’s insistence that Cayman’s cruise sector will die unless the cruise piers are built in George Town is not supported by statistics. They are lying to the people.

    Cayman is enjoying better cruise numbers than popular destinations such as St Maarten, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the US Virgin Islands. All have cruise berthing ports.

    Cayman does not need the cruise berthing. Why is The Premier and Deputy Premier desperate to mortgage the future and give total control of the cruise tourism product to Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines at all costs?

  10. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

  11. Anonymous says:

    More evidence that Cayman does not need the cruise dock. Why are the government pushing this down our throats? Cayman has more important priorities.

  12. Anonymous says:

    And who exactly is CTO and how are they taking their opinion surveys? It’s the old, ‘Lies, damned lies, and statistics,’ thing. A popular scuba diving magazine used to regularly rate these islands in their top ten while at the same time raking in a lot of money from advertising the Cayman Islands. These surveys are a joke. Should we trust them?

    • Anonymous says:

      7:47 Tripadvisor has just dropped Grand Cayman to sixth best resort in the Caribbean. First was Jamaica and second was Puerto Rico! As you say, these surveys are a joke.

      • BeaumontZodecloun says:

        Link please. My search results come up differently.

      • Anonymous says:

        The reason Jamaica is doing so well is because they offer a selection of excellent all inclusive (AI) resorts, places operated by chains like Sandals and Iberostar, which is something we don’t (and now probably never will) have.

        It’s the same with Cuba. The big attraction there for visitors from the UK and Europe (two markets we’ve completely lost) is AI and they do it very well – been there, done it, loved it.

        Years ago DoT appear to have adopted a policy of AI = down-market and shut them all out. Despite all the stats we’ve been losing ground ever since.

        • Anonymous says:

          Huh? Jamaica and Cuba are doing well? Compared to where, Afghanistan?

          • Anonymous says:

            12:46 I see the ignorant Trolls are alive and kicking out there.

            Cuba – despite Trump’s travel ban currently heading for a record 5 million tourist arrivals in 2019.

            Jamaica – record arrivals all year so far with first half year figures hitting 2 million.

            The figure for Cuba is interested because in recently they’ve rapidly overtaken Jamaica since 2014.

            • Anonymous says:

              Sorry, hit send before I’d finished editing my 6:05 post. The last sentence should read, ‘The figure for Cuba is interesting because they’ve rapidly overtaken Jamaica since 2014.’

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually, the big difference in the Trip Advisor write-ups of the top 6 places is the variety of things to do. Grand Cayman’s list is very short. And you only get to it after the opening line. Which is, I kid you not, “The farther you go from Grand Cayman’s busy docks, the more peace and quiet you’ll find.”

          So while AI resorts do bring in streams of guests that may not really be what’s driving the difference in visitor interest in these various destinations. I agree the AI resorts are not, by nature, down-market. It all depends on the resort and some are definitely up-market. But they do produce a ‘closed economy’ where more of the tourist benefit is held within the AI resort than spread out among a host of businesses. At least in theory. So I can understand the apparent DoT policy. Of course you need the numbers for any of those businesses to benefit so numbers do matter. Its just that Grand Cayman’s problem isn’t really a lack of numbers.

          It would be a good experiment to promote an AI resort on the Brac. Would it attract a different market, allowing the Brac to find its niche?

          • Anonymous says:

            If you go back a few years they had AI on the Brac at both Divi Tiara and the Brac Reef Resort. I stayed at both and they were a bit basic but OK. Of course they’ve both gone now.

            CNS: The Brac Reef has changed its name. It’s now the Cayman Brac Beach Resort and is very much still there.

            • Anonymous says:

              @CNS But that’s not the original Brac Reef Resort, which I visited in 1992 when Reef Divers and Ed Beatty’s photoshop were there. Since then it’s changed ownership and been completely re-modeled. I was over there when the construction work was underway. Not saying that’s a bad thing and the reviews are excellent but the fact is the place I stayed at has gone. If don’t believe that I’ve still got the videos from the 1992 trip.

              CNS: The resort was built by Linton Tibbetts (who also built the Divi hotel) and is now owned by his grandchildren. The main building was completely flattened by Hurricane Paloma in 2008 and had to be rebuilt from the ground up, and while I haven’t been back for a few years, the rooms were certainly due for a makeover. I mourn the loss of the seagrape trees on the beach, not to mention the actual beach, and I really don’t see the point of the concrete lookout block thing but it’s basically the same resort, upgraded. In 1992 the diving for the hotel was still run by Brac Aquatics, a separate company. Reef Divers has always been owned by the Tibbetts family. I’d love to see your videos, though! Truly.

            • Anonymous says:

              True the Brac and LC resorts operate as fairly all inclusive. I guess what I was referring to is a more mass market ‘the resort is the attraction’ type of AI operation. Think something three times the size of the Brac Reef you remember and 4 stars instead of three. (I’m not sure the jump in operating cost from 4 to 5 stars would be justified by ROI on the Brac, but I may be wrong.) Basically, not something targeting the traditional dive market of the sister islands. We divers don’t need fancy, we just need good diving support. 🙂

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