About 50% fewer cruise passengers expected by 2024
Tourism authorities in the Cayman Islands are expecting a sharp decline in the number of cruise passengers arriving in its capital, George Town, over the next two years. Current expectations estimate the fallout at about 50 per cent by 2024.
Cruise passengers account for about 75% of total tourist arrivals in the Cayman Islands.
George Town does not have a cruise berth. Passengers must be tendered (i.e., brought ashore in small craft). The citizens of the Cayman Islands have expressed resistance to the building of a cruiseship berth in George Town. Meanwhile, the largest cruise lines serving the Caribbean, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, are refusing to tender their largest ships. The increase in the fleet of mega cruise ships serving the Caribbean will therefore result in a decline in cruise passengers going ashore in the Cayman Islands.
Cayman Islands Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan confirmed this, following meetings this past Summer (2022) with cruise lines that call on George Town.
Projections are that less than 750,000 cruise passengers will cruise into Cayman Islands waters in 2024, a decline of nearly about 50% as compared to the 1.4 million expected in 2022. The Cayman Islands received 1.84 million cruise passengers in pre-pandemic 2019. He indicated that by 2024, Royal Caribbean will be bringing 100,000 fewer cruise passengers than in 2019 and that Carnival is planning to reduce the number of cruise ships calls from 327 to 171 next year.
Public responses (as recorded by the local newspaper Cayman Compass) to the news of the expected decline of cruise passenger arrivals were warmly receptive even celebratory.
PUBLIC RESPONSES TO NEWS ABOUT THE EXPECTED DECLINE AS PUBLISHED BY CAYMAN COMPASS
- Good news
- Great news
- Each year the numbers will decline until eventually, they bypass Cayman altogether.
- We need to focus on stay over tourism not those who add hardly anything to the national economy.
- Fantastic … focus on high-end land based.
- Perhaps this is an opportunity to recreate George Town. The focus of small shops for cruise passengers can be changed instead into an eclectic town which focuses on providing a true island, not tourist, experience with an emphasis on culture and arts. … Instead, continue to expand Owen Roberts, add quality hotels setback from water’s edge, and create a town for all in George Town
- … With the large number of Carnival ships and the constant stream of passengers who can’t afford a $2 bus fare, walking to the Beach and Smiths Cove, I suspect (passenger spend whilst ashore) is a lot less than Govt claims. We definitely do not need growth in this sector which will bring down the quality of overall visitor experience at the expense of losing some of our prime tourists, the stay over visitors, who spend far more in the local economy.