UPDATED – Oct 29, 2006 -11:09am
We notice this recent Nation News article where Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch announced that Barbados was to be “home-port” for 18 cruise ships this winter. Obviously, this will boost provisioning revenues for these vessels. See Barbados Best Home Port.
How Much Money Will How Many Passengers Spend In 10 Hours?
Tourism is such an important part of our Barbados economy that there are very few of us who are not in some way connected directly or indirectly with those reddy-pink sunburned people who wander about wearing funny hats and taking photos.
Barbados Free Press readers often discuss tourism revenues, infrastructure costs, Cricket World Cup, island environment and other subjects associated with the industry – and while there is seldom full agreement on anything, we all know that the twin blows of 9/11 and soaring oil prices hit us rather hard in the last five years. Many cruise ship operators cut back on Barbados as our island is at the end of the line from most home-ports, and frankly, from a tourist standpoint is little different than so many other islands – and maybe less attractive in terms of natural beauty than some nearer destinations.
So we should all welcome visits from cruise ships – and we do welcome them. Of late though, some of our readers have been questioning how much revenue cruise ships actually generate when compared with the infrastructure and government subsidies necessary to keep them coming to Bridgetown. Or… compared with island stay tourists who spend their entire vacation on Barbados, rather than cruising from island to island on a floating hotel.
Attracting cruise ships is a highly competitive business because, as we have pointed out, if Barbados doesn’t make it attractive for the ships to choose our nation, there is always another beautiful island that would be happy to take our place.
Queen Mary II Will Spend 10 Hours At Bridgetown on December 5, 2006
Let’s take one visit by one ship and (with BFP readers’ assistance) try to guess at the associated revenues and costs. Cunard’s Queen Mary II is scheduled to spend 10 hours in port on December 5th (link). My grandfather sailed on the original once (as a troopship just after WWII), so that is as good a reason as any for choosing QMII as our subject.
The Wikipedia encyclopedia entry for QMII (link here – Also a good read on its own) states that she carries 2,620 passengers and 1,253 officers and crew. For the purposes of our discussion, let’s assume a 100% occupancy for this new liner. Other older liners might not be at 100%, but I’d bet that QMII will be close to full.
How Many Passengers Disembark & How Many Remain Onboard?
Maybe some of our readers can assist here. On this particular seven day cruise, Bridgetown is the first stop after two days of “Cruising the Atlantic Ocean” out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As someone who knows nothing about cruise ships and the tourist industry, I’d speculate that a higher percentage of passengers would be coming ashore than if the stop was near the end of the voyage.
Is that assumption correct? (Let’s hear from some of our tourism industry readers.)
And that brings us to the next question – what is the usual percentage of cruiseship passengers who disembark at Barbados? Does anyone in tourism or the government collect these figures – and what process is used to collect the information? Do you guess, or is the ship required to file some information? If not, how can we even begin to estimate the value of a cruiseship docking?
Next question – What is the average revenue spent in Barbados by each disembarking passenger? Some will go on tours (On December 5th, the Queen Mary II is offering a group tour to a sugar plantation – and probably a few other organized tours as well), while others will wander Bridgetown on their own.
Any input on the average revenues, folks? How does the government or tourism industry calculate this?
How Much Does Queen Mary II Pay For Docking & Supplies?
What costs does the QMII pay to enter harbour, stay and then leave? My guess is that QMII would provision herself in Fort Lauderdale, as it just doesn’t make economic sense that she would take on supplies in Bridgetown. So other than port charges, I’d guess that there is probably little revenue associated with docking. (Am I correct, folks?)
Government Subsidies & Incentives
Does the Government of Barbados grant any subsidies or rebates to Cunard? I’ve heard that in other jurisdictions, sometimes docking fees are set on a sliding scale where after a certain number of visits in a year, a rebate is given. (Any input, tourism people?)
What Is The Bottom Line Profit Associated With Queen Mary II’s Visit?
The infrastructure and businesses set up to service disembarking cruise ship passengers provides direct employment to – I’d guess – thousands of Bajans. This employment has a real value even if it is difficult to put a number to it.
At the end of the day, hosting cruise ships is a national business. Are we really making money at it… or is it some type of “Loss Leader” – necessary, but not profitable in and of itself?
Let’s hear your thoughts…
Photo credit: Queen Mary II on her maiden voyage visit to Bridgetown, January 22, 2004. Photo by Theodore W. Scull (website with many beautiful photos link here)