by Emmanuel Joseph
Barbados’ pleasure boat business is booming these days, two years after the Harbour Master, then the island’s main party cruise craft was relocated to Trinidad and Tobago due to declining demand.
The same company which owned the Harbour Master and had attributed a significant drop in businesses, to its decision to send the ship to Trinidad, is now riding on the crest of a wave of business with another of its ships, the locally-based Tiami Catamaran Cruises.
In fact, a competing pleasure boat operation, the Jolly Roger, is also over the moon about its fortunes.
The Tiami Catamaran Cruises, is excited about how business turned out this year.
“We had a very strong Crop-Over this year. It was surprise considering the current economic situation,” said Operations Manager, Joshua Roach.
“We had a very good summer [and] the winter appears very solid. More cruise ships than ever are coming.”
However, he said it was hard to tell what the land-based business would be like.
The Tiami Catamaran executive suggested that business this year was on par with last year’s.
“Boats were going out with 90 per cent to 100 per cent full this Crop-Over,” pointed out Roach.
In 2011 when the Harbour Master was sent packing to Port-of-Spain for a three-year period, Chief Executive Officer of Tall Ships, Dennis Roach said the tough economic times had resulted in a 40 per cent decline in cruises. However, even though the downturn still continues, operators of the two main party cruise businesses are singing a better tune.
Director of Jolly Roger, Allan Kinch told Barbados TODAY: “We had a very good (Crop-Over) weekend. Hopefully, we will get a few more (cruise bookings) now that Crop-Over is done.”
Kinch said bookings for his pleasure boat business for this year were better than last year.
“We are getting better bookings than last year — solid bookings — up by about 25 per cent,” he declared.
The Jolly Roger director expressed delight that business this year had been very good considering too, that it’s only the third year for the new business.
“Before we were focussed on tourists only, but now, we are geared for both tourists and locals. We are now doing more local functions, such as staff parties, school functions and so on,” added the pleasure craft executive.
Kinch said business was tougher in May and June, but picked up in July. He acknowledged that September and October were traditionally the worse months of the year in the tourism sector.
“I use June and September to do maintenance,” he stated.
But he is hoping for a good winter. The famous Jolly Roger Plack Pearl Party Cruises have had some 1.5 million hits on Google along and over 7,000 likes on Facebook, he reported.