Caribbean should unite against new ‘pirates’

| 19/01/2020 | 49 Comments

Mario Rankin writes: Why do some shipping companies that have their headquarters in one country register their ships in another country? In the maritime industry this is known as “Flags of Convenience”. While this practice is controversial, it became popular 100 years ago when US ships were trying to get around Prohibition (ban of alcohol) in the United States.

The practice continues today as shipping companies found that it had other advantages. It allows them to avoid countries that have stricter labour laws to protect employees and stricter safety and environmental standards.

In short, shipping companies have found ways to maximise their profits at the expense of countries with weak laws.

Many of us have heard the tales of Henry Morgan, Francis Drake and the most famous of all, Blackbeard, but while we refer to them as pirates, they were, in fact, privateers. What’s the difference? Pirates operated illegally while the privateers were granted permission by their governments to rob and pillage, providing that the government got a share of their treasure.

Today, it is hard to distinguish the pirates and the privateers as they have traded in their eye patches for eye glasses, their swords for pens, and their small wooden ships for massive floating vessels. The shipping industry has evolved over centuries and nowhere is this more evident that in the cruise industry. However, what has not changed is their thirst for profit at someone else’s expense.

While we can’t blame any company that wants to grow their profit margins, when it’s at the expense, sustainability and the well-being of an entire region, we should pump the brakes for a closer look, something few, if any, Caribbean islands have done, consequently creating a disadvantage to themselves without knowing.

But 60% of the entire revenue of the cruise lines comes from the Caribbean and it is increasing at a very fast rate. This is expected to grow even more, as some areas in North America and Europe that are concerned with over-tourism and its negative effect limit the number of cruise ships that are allowed to visit.

The responsible thing for any government to do is to confer with the other governments in the Caribbean and not only share the bully tactics used by the cruise industry but also unite to find a common solution to ensure that the people of the Caribbean receive their fair share of the treasure. For too long they have been taking advantage of and exploiting our neighbours due to some of their economic challenges.

It’s long overdue for all Caribbean islands come together as one association and create a Caribbean Cruise Alliance, taking back control of our tours and onshore shopping, while understanding that the cruise lines need us far more than we need them. We must ensure a fair environment for all involved and not allow them to continue using us against each other to drive down prices for their benefit.

I believe strongly that if we unite and call for a meeting to set new agreements and standards, rather than bending, we can accomplish this goal. I know it won’t be easy and there will be a huge push-back from cruise lines, with hollowed threats that will, at first glance, sound like it’s the end of the tourism industry.

But let me reassure you, with 60% and rising monies being made from the Caribbean, there would be no cruise lines without it. It’s time we start recognising the strength we possess and make sure all our islands maximise the benefits that come with it.

While Bob Marley’s famous song “Redemption” started out with: “Old pirates, yes they rob I”, he went on to say, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.”

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Category: Business, Tourism, Viewpoint

Comments (49)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Its like that man say to Mario on Mr. Woodys radio show, “he used to work in customs, what he know about the cruise industry? I used to work at papa johns, what I know about a pizza oven?”

    Tired of this same song that only want to help them, not help Cayman. Cruise business helps our people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 6:02, you are being too ignorant! Mario is saying to hold the Cruise Industry accountable to make MORE money flow into the island, instead of into their own pockets at the expense of the island. He is pointing out that the Cruise Lines cannot live without the Caribbean islands, but that they are exploiting them with their bully threats to pull out the minute an island fights back to defend itself to have more of the treasure rather than the Billionaires Cruise owners getting such a greedy unfair majority part of the treasure while exploiting your island and not giving you much of it. That their bully threats of pulling out is just empty farts of gas, they know they can’t pull out! They would go broke if they pull out, and Cayman is the biggest Caribbean Gem for them! They would never leave Cayman, they just bully threat and everyone backs down, stop backing down, they need you desperately to let them make their treasure, they just need to be more fair and let you keep more of the treasure and stop being so unfair and exploiting you.

      Now, if we talk about pollution from their engine fumes, well the Greek Islands claim it is destroying their islands! That’s a whole other topic. They are an environmental disaster!

      But hey, i mean mankind is now dangerously polluting outerspace, mankind are geniuses at destroying Creation! Foolish! Lust and Greed for fortune, fame and self-glory at the expense of harming anything that gets in their way of their ego trips!

      Greedy people don’t do business to care about others, they do business to make money harming anyone or anything that gets in their way to pump up their self-glorifying ego trips of lust for fortune and fame and power over others.

      Look at Smith Cove proposed revamp, holy crap, that could only be for Cruise Passengers, it’s surely not to benefit locals! It’s horrific, to take down all the nature that makes the Cove so beautiful. It’s Government once again kissing the ass of Cruisehip Companies, now they are going to destroy our beloved little cove! They will stop at nothing! They will destroy your island right infront of your face by always threatening to pull out and go somewhere else, it’s empty threats that they will not carry out, but it works well for them because you immediately back down and give the Devil what he wants! (or you have corrupt Politicians being paid under the table from them to give them what they want, and the Greedy Politiicans take the bribe not caring about the exploitation and harm of their People and their Country!

      It is time for the People to stand up and defend their Country from any Politician or anyone exploiting their Country! It is the People who vote the Politician in! It is not the Politician who votes the People in! Get it straight! And your consumer tax is what pays them to be a Politician, YOU pay them, they don’t pay YOU!


  2. Anonymous says:

    The only thing that I agree with since he initiated a petition against building a port in Cayman. XXXX
    But he has a point, the problem is Caribcom, everyone wants the benefit of what Cayman has achieved and would be the first to sell us to the devil. Just look at the contracts the ships provide any company? You are no one not a partner, not an agent, not an employee, or an employer? You need to give 30 days notice they only need to give one day? It’s not a usual contract, I brought it to a minister with a law degree and he told me flat out nothing we could do about it. One of the problems is the majority of our region is third world they would crawl on the floor to get what we got. It’s not a problem, we will soon lose all of the best ships and company. As I write this comment, ships are bypassing spotts and not coming in today.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s pretty simple. You charge by the head so all you need to do is raise the price. Unfortunately for you, most locally owned businesses are terrified of the cruise lines pulling back if rates go up. No one has any balls, or you could double the fees. But the local businesses would not see that extra money so they don’t want anything to change. I suggest trading higher fees for letting them gamble in port.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mario is advocating the folloing:

    1. Killing off our vessel registration business which is primarily Oil Tanker, Car carrier, Bulk carrier and Luxury yatch registrations and which provides the country with $10M per year.

    Cruise ships are not even listed as a source of revenue.

    2. Next he advocates teaming up and sharing war stories with our competitors in the Caribbean – coz they really want to see us get more business than them I guess. And establishing new rules which will benefit them and I guess screw the Cruise Industry. I guess we could do this via Carcom since that has been such a sucess.

    3. Taking Bobs advice…well good idea but I think Bob was referring to theoretical pirates not actual pirates. Pirates such as those who pretend to care about us and secretly are benefiting and profiting personally from the struggles they say they care about.

    Not sure if I can take him seriously.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Garbage ships.

    Time to take out the trash !

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why conflate ‘flags of convenience’ with Caribbean (or local) tourism ‘regulation’, or at least cooperative bargaining power? Two vastly different topics. A poor Op-Ed approach.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Jamaica – $1 a slice
    Bahamas- $2 a slice
    Cayman – $5 a slice

    These are the pie-rates of the Caribbean.

  8. Anonymous says:

    USA-flagged vessels would have to conform with US Coast Guard Regulations, American Disabilities Act, a long list of Employment and Labour Laws, and Union rules. USA boats wouldn’t be able to crew with near slave-labour waged workers, or retain passports of their staff for “safe keeping”…and there would be a USA Gaming Commission to oversee conduct and receive a cut of all onboard Casino revenues. That’s the big one. The liners don’t want any outside meddling in any of this. They are floating gangster-led fleecing machines and not going to be changing their spots anytime soon.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Of course, this isn’t a new concept Mario. There are well-entrenched channels, in every hemisphere, already in the “pretend liaison” game. For years, one of the more influential in our neighbourhood, has been the hustle that is the “Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association”, a private, pay-for-influence, money-making vehicle, started by Michele Paige, that links gullible/desperate Caribbean vendors and governments (like the hyper-naive CIG) to the liner executive suites. FCCA sells associate membership “chances” for $25,000 a year, while Michele visits her stables and surveys her horse collection. Imagine paying $25,000 a year to advocate for your business or jurisdiction, only to learn that the information and advocacy flows in the opposite direction, right back in your face in the form of headwind directives from the liner industry. That’s what’s going on Mario. 90% or more of the “pro-port” businesses in Cayman (including DOT/Minister of Tourism) are not only paid-up associates, but they have been bombarded with this liner-centric-newsflow, contrived data, and “exclusive FCCA scoop” koolaid for decades – that they have paid for. They are no longer capable of sorting truth from fiction. In fact, most aren’t even interested in the truth, if it’s contrary to liner profits that’s how Stockholmed they are.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Well said Mario. Now watch you get attacked as bloggers ignore the message and focus on the messenger.

    • Anonymous says:

      The messenger lacks credibility. That’s his own doing.

      • John 8:7 says:

        Read your bible John 8:7

        “7. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”

        • Anonymous says:

          I prefer non-fiction

        • Anonymous says:

          Was it a stone or a marl rock?
          Mario is familiar with marl rocks, and the days when his oft quoted phrase was “we run tings” while puffing cigars and playing golf. His trucking business was a flag of convenience when all the marl for the West Bay Road Bypass had to be sourced through him despite him not having a quarry or viable trucking business.

          It’s very easy to see the planks in other people’s eyes.

          • Anonymous says:

            Anonymous at 12:34 pm you are too funny! He played golf? Wow!

          • Anonymous says:

            12:34….I surely do remember that time!

          • Mario says:

            1. By-pass never used one single yard of marl.
            2. I don’t smoke and never did.
            3. Played golf one time in my life.unless u include miniature golf
            4. I worked for one of Caymans only dredging company’s in the 90s where I loaded trucks…then bought my FIRST dump truck and built MY trucking company..

            So it’s really easy to criticize someone, however it’s extremely hard to agree with anyone when all you focus on is trying to discredit them for your own personal emotional reasons, instead of just looking at the content….

            I bet if I was the only Brian surgeon in the world and you needed surgery to save your life…you would end up dead because of your blind ignorance and pride…..

        • Anonymous says:

          Are you comparing Mario to Jesus?

  11. Ship Wrecked says:

    First sensible thing mario has written that I can agree with 100%.

    Why aren’t the caribbean islands heavily reliant on cruise tourism and it’s leaders trying to work together to get the best deals for their economies and people throughout the Caribbean?

    The cruise lines have a united position why aren’t leaders in the caribbean doing the same thing?

    • Anonymous says:

      Raise the head tax or landing fee if you want more. It is easy. This is your own fault that you don’t.

  12. Vote no says:

    Careful Mario, talking sense and exposing knowledge to the general public is bad juju. Better to keep them on a short leash and uneducated to secure the reign of terror indefinitely. In all seriousness, thank you Mario.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This letter is as outdated in ideas as the term “flags of convenience”.

    Boi, get a chip update, nah!

  14. Anonymous says:

    You do realize that Cayman has one of the largest ship registries in the world .. right? And that very few of those ships and yachts ever see the shores here? Right? Is this just ignorance or do you truly not understand the economic revenues that Cayman generates from this? But then again… it’s par for the course lately.. shoot the goose that lays the golden egg eh… how about our ever growing aircraft registry business Mario? Why not just toss out the entire offshore money business and chalk it up to piracy too? shockingly shallow!

    • Anonymous says:

      How many cruise ships fly under the Cayman flag and are registered with MACI?

      Don’t focus on the author try to see the general point then look in the mirror to see what shallow looks like.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cruise ships wont register here because of our gambling laws. If they register here, they would not be able to have on board casinos.

        • Anonymous says:


          It WOULD BE legal to gamble on-board a Cayman-registered cruise ship in international waters (just not in Cayman 12-mile limit).

          But there is no such vessel😂

          • Anonymous says:

            that is wrong… this has literally been the hold up for cruise ships not registering in Cayman

            • Anonymous says:

              No, they literally changed the Law a few years ago to clarify this precise point.

            • Anonymous says:

              You are wrong, literally and in any other way, shape or form.

              It is perfectly legal to gamble in international waters on-board a Cayman-registered cruise ship (if there was one).

              Cayman law allows this.

              You’re information is as outdated as your argument.

            • Anonymous says:

              The hold up is that cruise ships want to perform weddings and the captain would need to be licensed under Cayman law as a marriage officer. Local marriage officers and pastors would not be happy with this.

      • Anonymous says:

        A fat ZERO!

    • Anon says:

      @9:12 PM – Your comment follows the typical Caymanian tradition of disagreeing with the message based solely on who delivered it. We Caymanians need to stop this foolishness of lashing out against the messenger. Why not just give your opinion without negativity and insults? We need to encourage people to speak out and to share their ideas, so we can come to mutually beneficial solutions to our problems. We need to start encouraging our citizens to speak, regardless of whether or not we like who is doing the speaking.

    • George says:

      Well.. said 9:12 I think the guy lack basic understanding of what he writing about and how it would hurt the very place he call home.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly!! The owners of these yachts apply for registration here because the ensign is well respected in most ports. The only money we will get from this is the licence fees. Mario you have the right to write what you did, but do not get hung up on the illusions that it will change. Spend your effort on some other topic. This plot will not fly!!

      • Anonymous says:

        My word, 4:04pm how are you able to cram so much good and false information in 7 lines?

        Truly amazing.

      • Anonymous says:

        The company that owns the yacht is also registered here and pays annual fees to CIG and lawfirms or management companies. It is good business that benefits us greatly.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Cayman ship registry barely breaks even. The whole point is that it is cheap.

      • Anonymous says:

        We adore people like you. Your bad information keeps the competitors away – both local and foreign.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are fooling yourself and others. Cayman is a bit player in the commercial ship registry game, holding less than 3% of commercial ship registrations (both by tonnage and number of vessels). Cayman is significant when it comes to pleasure yacht registrations but the contribution of the ship registry business to Cayman after deducting MACI and other CIG spending is effectively zero, maybe even negative.

      • Anonymous says:


        How can you cram so much misleading information in 9 lines?

        Do you live in the same wonderland as the 7-line idiot?

        Guess it take all types to make a circus.

  15. Anonymous says:

    To the extent the cruise lines are directly participating in local tours, are they not carrying on a trade or business in Cayman? Does that not need a license, and Caymanian participation? Why do I see their crew ashore distributing drinks and taking photos?

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