by Emmanuel Joseph
Barbados’ struggling tourism sector is about to receive a major boost.
That’s because Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is now returning to the island in a big way, revealed Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy.
Noting that Royal Caribbean had earlier announced the removal of all its ships from the Southern Caribbean route over a year ago, Sealy said the return of the cruise line, was aimed at bringing back much-needed tonnage to the region. He saw this development as excellent news, particularly considering that the Serenade of the Seas, was one of the vessels which had stopped coming to Barbados.
The minister disclosed that two ships, the Jewel of the Seas, which began sailing from May, will now make Barbados a port-of-call throughout the year, while Quantum of the Sea will come here incrementally from November next year.
“We only had the Carnival (Valor) coming year round and in addition to the Carnival, we will also have the Jewel of the Seas — the two biggest cruise players (sailing in Barbados),” added the Cabinet minister.
“Carnival has 50 per cent of the market and Royal Caribbean has about 25 per cent of the market.”
Quantum of the Seas has the capacity to carry 4,100 passengers and Jewel of the Seas, 2,501 passengers. A release from the Government Information Service stated today that the return of the RCCL, came after intensive negotiations with Sealy and major cruise players in Miami, Florida.
However, some of the main cruise industry stakeholders in Barbados told Barbados TODAY this afternoon they were unaware the decision. Most of them also agreed that unless the ships were home-porting, the move would not make any significant difference to the Barbadian economy, while others insisted that home-porting would not benefit their business.
“Royal Caribbean still comes to Barbados and has been coming for a long time. What we would like to see is it coming all year round. We would like more ships between April and November. But more cruise ships, especially during this period, would improve the tourism numbers dramatically. Between the end of April and November, only one ship comes,” said Martin Bynoe, Managing Director of Black Pearl Party Cruise Inc., which owns the Jolly Roger.
“I would like to see ships every day outside of the regular cruise season.”
The top executive told this newspaper that home porting may be good generally, but not for his type of business, which requires visitors to spend time on the island, rather than just getting off the ship and going to the airport to catch a plane.
Operations Manager of Tiami Catamaran Cruises, Joshua Roach, while saying more vessels would be huge for the sector, conceded too, that home porting would be good for some and bad for others.
“Home porting would be good for the taxis and buses, but not for the pleasure cruise businesses which need visitors to stay on land,” Roach pointed out. Product Development Manager at Indar Weir Travel Centre, Dale Layne, said her agency had not been notified about the return of the ships. Layne said though, that nothing had changed with regards to the continuing arrival here of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
“Unless ships coming to Barbados were home porting, it would not make any significant difference to the economy,” argued the travel agency official. Destinations Unlimited’s John Goddard, also said he had not been informed of the return “in a big way” of Royal Caribbean. At the same time, Goddard said more vessels would be great for Barbados.
“Home porting is the best thing for Barbados,” he declared.
He submitted that ships which do not home port “just make a stop on an itinerary”. firstname.lastname@example.org