BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, SEPTEMBER 27TH 2006 (CUOPM)
The Caribbean needs to begin playing close attention to the implications of the larger and most luxurious cruise ships that are being place into service.
“If we think about Royal Caribbean’s “˜Freedom of the Seas,’ which was launched earlier this year; it is 160,000 tons with a capacity for 4,300 plus passengers, but that is already stunted by Royal Caribbean’s “˜Genesis’ project which speaks to a tonnage in excess of 220,000 tons and 6,000 plus passengers,” said Chief Executive Officer of local shipping agents, Delisle Walwyn & Co., Mr. Denzil V. Crooke at a plaque exchange ceremony to inaugurate the visit to Saint Kitts – Nevis by the Disney Wonder. Crooke said there is the potential that the gap between the luxury on the ship and quality Caribbean destinations could very well widen and this presents challenges.
“It can place severe pressure on the facilities that we have in St. Kitts. Today, we boast that we are one of two ports that can accommodate the “˜Queen Mary 2′ and we are happy about that, but what about facing up to the possibilities of the “˜Genesis’ craft. The QM2 is stunted because the Genesis project speaks to a ship that is 360 meters longer than the QM2 and hence I speak of the pressure that is placed on our own facilities,” said Crooke.
He said the order book for cruise lines speaks to 28 vessels between now and 2009 being built at a total cost of about U$16.5 billion. Each ship averages over 2,500 passengers.
“We are talking about serious challenges,” added Crooke, who pointed to several events that are changing the face of tourism marketing in the Caribbean.
“High fuel cost we are quite familiar with. There are possible signs of a slow down in the US economy and this is important to us because 86% of cruise passengers come from the U.S. and this is rather significant. Hurricane damage to some ports in particular in the Western Caribbean is one of these things that threaten the development of tourism in the region as is safety and security,” said Crooke.
He said that the cruise ship industry presents a challenge to all those who are crystal ball readers, simply because the dynamics are such that they change so often.