The 2012 Caribbean Shipping Executives Conference provided participants with real opportunities to discuss specifics. And there were enough specifics to discuss: the economics of ship size; the ordering of more ships even as statistics show overcapacity; the needs, expectations and concerns in the cruise ship business.
The discussions in Jacksonville, Florida, in May brought clarity, even if concerns subsequently prevailed.
Mike Ronan, senior executive of one of the region’s major cruise lines, advised countries which derive revenues from cruise to improve the shoreside experiences of cruise guests or risk a loss of cruise ship calls (see ‘Headwinds and Opportunities’, Page 7 ). The message was clear and should have resonated with those destination ports that come up wanting in cruise passenger satisfaction surveys.
The maritime vacation season in the Caribbean peaks during the northern winter. And, for this reason, the year-end issue of Caribbean Maritime focuses – though not exclusively – on ‘cruise and luxury yachts’. Miami continues as arguably the busiest cruise port in the world and the Caribbean remains the winter playground for those who choose to cruise – 16 or 17 million in 2012, depending on which statistics you believe.
Scores of luxury yachts, some under sail, will also be plying the Caribbean Sea this winter, slipping into marinas in some of the most beautiful spots on earth. This is a growing business for regional shipping and particularly those members of the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA) who are listed as Group B (that is, Port and Terminal Operators). Many ports have been exploiting business opportunities by providing safe, well appointed marinas and there has been a correspondent increase in capital investment in such facilities.
In this issue, Heidi Wellnitz shares her journal of the trip up the Caribbean archipelago with her husband Frank aboard their 45 ft sloop, Luana L (see Page 16). Although not a writer – Heidi is an artist – her recollections paint a vivid picture of yachting in the Caribbean and give a taste of how important marinas are for those who sail their own vessels on vacation.
The Queen’s Birthday Honours 2012 lists, among distinguished persons from the British Commonwealth, David Lionel Harding as recipient of the honour of Member of the Order of the British Empire ‘for services to the maritime industry’. This honour, which recipients acknowledge by placing the letters MBE, after their surnames, hints at but in no way measures the contribution David Harding has made to the development of shipping in his native home, Barbados and in the wider Caribbean, as member and illustrious Past President of the CSA. His quick wit (see Page 42) and disarming manner should not disguise the depth of intellect and breadth of wisdom he has brought to address issues related to the growth and expansion of shipping in Barbados and across the Caribbean and Latin America for more than 30 years. Caribbean Maritime acknowledges his immense contribution to regional development.
Editor, Caribbean Maritime