Earlier this week, Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin spoke on the future of cruise tourism in the popular Western Caribbean port of Grand Cayman. First, the government decided not to proceed with what has been a controversial plan to develop a proper cruise berthing facility in George Town. The development would have reduced the need for ships to use tenders as there would be actual berths as common in other ports of call around the world.
Furthermore, McLaughlin said the government is considering limits on cruise passengers to offer a better balance in tourism in the country. Over the last year the Cayman Islands have adapted to life without cruise tourism and the consensus is that businesses and locals do not want to go back to the pre-pandemic visiter numbers. According to the coverage in the Cayman Compass, there were more than 1.83 million cruise ship passengers who visited Grand Cayman in 2019.
Below is a video clip where Premier McLaughlin discusses the cruise berthing project and the potential cap on cruise passengers.
McLaughlin insisted that he was not suggesting that Cayman entirely abandon cruise tourism, “but we cap the numbers so that our current system can accommodate them in a better way and the experience for those who do visit can be better”.
Again, please remember, the Cayman Islands are only considering capping the number of cruise passengers so their current system can accommodate cruise passengers in a better way and provide a better overall experience for those who do visit come ashore, they are not looking to outright ban cruise tourism as is the case with Key West.
We will continue to monitor the developments on cruise tourism in the Cayman Islands.
I am not surprised by this. Ports such as Cayman Islands, Key West, FL and Bar Harbor, ME are realizing that cruise lines are not the economic machine once believed them to be. I read that that it has been reported that even in Nassau, a favored port of call many cruise lines, only about 600 passengers on a 3000 passenger ship actually get off the ship. The once popular cruise ports are now pushing their resorts. 100 people staying at Atlantis resort for 4 days probably generate more income for the local economy and a cruise ship. Cruise lines will eventually rely on their private island more and more in the future. I can foresee future Disney cruises that include both Castaway Cay and Lighthouse Point both of which qualify as foreign ports to satisfy the requirements of the Passenger Vessel Services Act as the islands are controlled by the Bahamian Government