Barbados Not Prepared For New Mega Cruise Ships

Barbados Free Press received this article this morning from anonymous reader “B”. We don’t know if it is an original work or if it has been published elsewhere. (We searched but couldn’t find it.) It seems to be in reply to our June 10, 2008 article Can Barbados Cope With The New Mega Cruise Ships’ 5000+ Passengers?

Nonetheless, this is a very important article written by an obviously educated and well-informed person. We encourage everyone to read the article fully as our tourism industry is vital to our country. Our thanks to BFP reader “B”…

New Mega Cruise Ships

News about the introduction of the New Mega-Cruise Ships to the Caribbean is not new. As early as 2000, delegates attending the Cruise Ship conference in Puerto Rico, including Caribbean Private and Public sectors participants, were notified by Cruise Lines officials that the new type cruise ships could be in service within 5 -10 years. Reasons given for the change suggested mega-cruise ships would be more economical to operate and that the Caribbean as a whole would benefit from the increase passenger capacity.

The subtle inference in the Cruise Lines’ message, if anyone read between the lines, was the need for Caribbean destinations to upgrade and modernize their respective cruise ship facilities to accommodate the new vessels.

Whether all of the delegates took this information seriously is doubtful but Cayman Islands, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Maarten are moving to ensure their ports will be ready for the mega-cruise ships. Barbados on the other hand signed a three-year agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines on Oct 06/2006 (Nation News Oct 07/2006) that guaranteed the island a minimum of 400,000 cruise ship passengers annually over the contract duration plus revenues of $156 million dollars.

The need for this contract is mind-boggling when one considers the average number of cruise ship passenger arrivals for 2004 & 2005 equated to 642,429 (2004-721270 and 2005-563588). Presumably someone believed joint marketing activities would be a better investment than upgrading the Bridgetown port facilities.

The presumption Barbados will be included in the mega-cruise ships’ itinerary is somewhat speculative at this time. The mega ships will be fully equipped with supplies to cover outbound and return trips to their home bases and the only replenishments that could be required are fresh fruits, flowers and possibly water.

With the launch of the mega-cruise ships, Caribbean destinations should anticipate changes in the Cruise Lines’ modus operandi. It will not be a case of cruise passengers “becoming less interested in leaving their ships” but rather how many ports of call will the ships’ itineraries include and how much time will be spent in each location. With a captive audience of approximately 5400 + passengers, the emphasis will be on spending more time at sea and less time in ports. A seven-day cruise could entail 4 nights at sea and three days for port calls. The objective is to motivate passengers to spend money on activities and entertainment onboard ships rather than in Caribbean ports of call.

Needless to say the advent of mega-cruise ships will impact heavily not only on Barbados but the entire Caribbean’s tourism industry. Bigger is not necessarily better. Bigger means less cruise ship arrivals and the ripple effect will trickle down to port workers, tour operators, taxi drivers, duty free shops, souvenir sellers, etc to mention a few. How tourism officials react to this new developing trend will be interesting to watch.

If tourism is expected to sustain Barbados’s economy over the next two decades, destination marketing strategies and the manner in which business is conducted must be redefined. Procrastination and the tendency, as mentioned in Rowntree’s “My Barbados” book, to act as if Barbados was the centre of the universe and that tourists are lining up in numbers to spend their vacations on island, may shock tourism stakeholders when visitors go elsewhere. Tourism officials need to take note of the phenomenal growth
St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico are experiencing and the stiff competition Barbados is facing in the industry.

Wanting to be classified, as a world-class destination does not happen by talking about it. Positive action is required by all concerned to achieve this status. To attract visitors, a destination has to be affordable and offer value for money. This is no longer the case in Barbados. For tourism to be a viable, productive and rewarding industry, Barbados may yet need to borrow a page from Jamaica’s Tourism Master plan and reinvent itself as a tourist destination.


Filed under Barbados

7 responses to “Barbados Not Prepared For New Mega Cruise Ships

  1. Jukecheckedeyskirt

    So the long and short of the matter is. Fancy talk, long talk, no talk, direct talk all equates to bare talk. Its time for action and not reaction. Tourism needs proactive approaches and a robust action plan and not bluff, lies and bare talk.

  2. politically incorrect

    Hi BFP:

    Just a little “constructive” criticism.

    In my opinion, too many subjects are being introduced in short order not allowing sufficient interraction before a new one is introduced.

    Just thought this may be helpful.

  3. head banger

    totally agree with ‘polically correct’,thrashing about here and there,with this and that and the interest is gone,
    simmer down a little

  4. lacking in RAM?

    Ummm..guys…news comes how news comes,okay?

    Some days are slow days
    and the suddenly 2 and 3 news items pop on yuh,suddenly.
    Can’t put a news item in de fridge, to keep it a few days until things get slow.

    If your(reader) intellect cyan’ handle two en three riveting things happening all at once…sorry for you,really.

  5. 13735.25345

    The new mega-ships are big on hype – of necessity!
    Scaring small islands into action,etc.

    Experienced cruisers now avoid very-large ships like the plague!
    avoiding the 5,400+ masses lined up for everything on board
    …it’s not pleasant.

    Already there is much popular sentiment that Royal Caribbean’s finest ships are its Radiance Class ships!
    – not Independence,Freedom and Liberty
    and CERTAINLY NOT the Genesis/Oasis ships!!

    because Radiance,Brilliance and Serenade
    are not too big/not too small…JUST right!
    and they’re absolutely correct.


    It’s thought that the new Mega Ships will attract lots and lots of inexperienced younger families
    who are also attracted to theme park type holidays.
    i.e. those who would ‘Do Disney’
    complete with long sweaty lines
    will also opt for ‘Oasis of the Seas’, when she comes off the slipway on Fall 2009,
    those young and impressionable families initially thrilling at the sheer size and American Magnificence of it all. Woooww!

    And after a few cruises with FAR too many ppl on board one ship
    they’ll get smart and revert right back to sane-sized ships like the Radiance Class, Destiny,Victory
    somewhere around 100,000 tons
    and 2-3000 pax, no more.

    So let’s not fool ourselves that the entire cruise industry will transform itself into a fleet of behemoth’s in 20 short years.
    Ain’t gonna happen.
    World economics for one, will cramp its style
    (we’re just beginning THE Big Oil Crunch!!)

    Carnival Destiny-sized ships will be around for many years yet
    so there’s no need to panic over our ability to handle the giants
    -that may not even come our way?
    although we’d be glad to see them
    Think of the corporate economics involved.
    Think like Cruise Management, for awhile.

    RCI has committed to two HUGE ships that seemed to be The Future of Cruising when they were envisioned 5 yrs. ago.
    But in that time, things have changed,dammit
    and now the economic skies are ‘turning grey’
    RCI has to convince itself
    -and the market-
    that Mega-Liners are still a good idea
    while they hope like hell that the masses of Middle America will still go for ‘Theme Cruising’
    to help pay off those TWO huge mortgages!!

    Incidentally, Oasis was (2007-)quoted at costing RCI U.S.$ 1,240,000,000
    for a ship being funded in US$
    while being built in Europe!

    Believe me, RCI must be having second thoughts about building TWO of these gigantic “things”.
    Thus the marketing pressure.


    Oasis’ twin sister is due out in the Fall of 2010, so there will be TWO gigantic mortgages
    somewhere around 1.5 BILLION Dollars each, to be funded!

    The cruising public will be paying for that – not Royal Caribbean Int’l.
    That’s how businesses run,Virginia.

  6. Cruise itineraries now published

    I just found this
    at the Doug Newman At Sea website
    at URL..


    Ever since Royal Caribbean announced that it would be building what was then known as Project Genesis,
    many cruise enthusiasts have been waiting with bated breath for the opportunity to book a cruise in one of these immense new ships.

    They’ll finally get that opportunity on 3 September 2008,
    which will undoubtedly be a blockbuster day for bookings at Royal Caribbean.

    Oasis of the Seas‘ maiden voyage is scheduled for 12 December 2009
    and will the first of 19 consecutive seven-night cruises from the ship’s homeport at Port Everglades, Florida to..
    Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas;
    Philipsburg, St. Maarten;
    and Nassau, Bahamas.

    Beginning 1 May 2010,
    these cruises will alternate with seven-night departures from Port Everglades to..
    Labadee, Haiti;
    the newly-developed port of Falmouth, Jamaica;
    and Cozumel, Mexico.

    Be sure to take a look at
    Royal Caribbean’s dedicated Oasis of the Seas web site
    for more information and images of this spectacular new ship!

  7. Toldja!

    CarnivalCorp. CEO Arison: Fuel can be albatross for new orders
    1st. July,2008

    Fuel spouting over $140 a barrel has sent cruise stocks tumbling in recent days!
    The market is ‘extremely sensitive right now to fuel,’ acknowledged Micky Arison, chairman and ceo of Carnival Corp. & plc.
    ‘We’re not alone,’ he added.
    ‘We’re crying with a lot of companies right now.’

    A recent business-news ranking comparing corporate valuations to General Motors put Carnival at three times the value of the automotive giant.
    ‘While we’re getting hammered, it’s not any worse than others,’ Arison told reporters on board Holland America’s new Eurodam.

    But he warned that if current conditions continue for an extended period, future capacity growth will slow.

    ‘The cost for the dollar brands to build in Europe and the operating profit based on $140 fuel
    means the returns are not higher than the cost of capital right now,’ Arison said.
    If today’s scenario holds, ‘it is likely you will see a slowdown in newbuilds after 2011.’

    Carnival Dream and Magic were the last contracts inked by Carnival. That was one year ago.
    Meanwhile, the company is taking a very high pace of deliveries for orders placed three or four years ago, particularly for European-sourced brands.

    However, Arison cautioned that even the sterling- and euro-denominated lines face steeper capital costs due to the skyrocketing price of shipbuilding components, on top of fuel. ‘The margins are starting to narrow,’ the Carnival chief said.

    It’s hard to put today’s dynamics into a historical context.
    During the gas lines of the 1970s in the United States,
    Carnival was just a two-ship entity.
    Now it’s 88 vessels strong,
    with a global portfolio of brands.

    ‘We were very U.S.-centric.
    Now we’re global.
    While times were as difficult or more difficult than today, having to deal with these issues globally is much more complicated for us,’ Arison noted.

    Each brand faces its own challenges.
    On the corporate level, he added, the dynamics are ‘intriguing.’

    Same factors apply to Royal Caribbean Int’l. no doubt.