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Cruise woes a wake-up call

Safe and dependable cruise ships

The latest cruise shipping data suggest that the Caribbean is still the preferred destination in the world. The evidence, gathered on behalf of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, suggests that the Caribbean is weathering the competition posed by an increasingly global cruise market.

Cruise destinations, emerging from the off-season summer doldrums, are looking forward to the upcoming high season when some of the largest cruise ships on the planet will return to make their ports busy again. As a region within the Region, the cruise destinations of the Eastern Caribbean are popular the world over. In the period October 2013 to April next, eight countries in this sub-region will collectively process more than 2380 cruise ship calls. St. Maarten will receive more than 600 (25%) of them; Barbados, about 370 (16%); and, St. Lucia, about 330 (14%) as the CSA’s Cruise Committee chair, points out (page 34).

Cruise tourism has become a significant economic pillar of Caribbean national economies with much public and private investment in infrastructure, equipment and systems. It was therefore with more than a little discomfort that Caribbean peoples viewed television images of a capsized cruise ship and frightened and disgusted passengers.

The Caribbean had as much at stake as any of the major players. For Caribbean stakeholders, the woes of Carnival (page 14) were, simply, uncomfortable; for others, they were a wake-up call for the entire cruise industry. Safety had never been an issue in cruise shipping. However, the incidents over the recent past would have placed ship designers and engineers in re-think mode. It would therefore be reasonable to anticipate that nothing will now be taken for granted. And, with all recommended corrective action taken, the cruise industry will emerge from the quagmire of 2012-2013 with safer and more dependable ships.

The growth of Yachting tourism continues unabated in the Caribbean. Driven by a massive increase in the number, size of vessels and popularity of large luxury yachts, especially in the ten year period up to 2008, the awareness of the opportunities presented by this sub-sector has expanded. Growth remains strong and, as Ajagunna & Pinnock point out (page 7),
“… none of global recession, stock market slides or disappearance of personal wealth has put a dent in Caribbean charter yacht vacations.” Growth therefore continues.

The previous edition of Caribbean Maritime recorded growth in ports and terminals in the Caribbean and Latin America. This 20th edition documents continuing growth and will be released as CSA members tour the Panama Canal, now in the final stages of a massive expansion programme. When completed, the expanded Canal is expected to stimulate even further growth in regional shipping. The global recession of the last seven years has barely receded. Any growth at this time should therefore be welcomed and embraced.  

Mike-JarrettMike Jarrett
Editor, Caribbean Maritime

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