ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Wednesday March 13, 2019 – The Antigua and Barbuda Government has lashed out at what it said was a misleading claim by President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association Nathan Dundas that Carnival Cruise Lines has cancelled several scheduled calls to the Caribbean nation and there would be massive fallout.
In a statement issued late yesterday, Minister of Tourism and Investment Charles Fernandez accused Dundas of scaremongering and causing unnecessary fear among cruise stakeholders.
Dundas had told the local media that, without explanation, Carnival Cruise Lines dropped Antigua and Barbuda from the itinerary of its Carnival Breeze, Carnival Magic, Carnival Legend and Carnival Pride cruise ships which were scheduled to sail to the twin-island nation for the 2019/2020 winter season. Dundas, a local shipping agent, had also warned of more cancellations.
But Fernandez said his comments were deceptive.
“What he does not reveal is that normally Carnival Cruise Lines make only three or four calls to Antigua and Barbuda annually. The one exception to this pattern was the 2017/2018 winter season when hurricanes decimated other destinations, causing Carnival to take advantage of Antigua’s fully functioning port,” he said.
The Tourism Minister added that the fallout was not as massive as Dundas was suggesting.
“The total number of passengers that could be affected by these cancellations is approximately 12,200. This is a relatively small number of the total cruise passengers that visit our country annually. Therefore, while we regret any loss of business, however small in percentage terms, we do not anticipate any significant adverse impact on the stakeholders in our economy,” he said.
“In choosing to issue his statement publicly, for reasons best known to himself, Mr Dundas caused unnecessary fear among cruise stakeholders and the general public, which was obviously his intention, particularly by his personal and unsubstantiated claim that he expects to see ‘more cancellations going forward’.”
Fernandez insisted that his Ministry highly values the “longstanding and mutually beneficial partnership” with Carnival Cruise Lines and will do all in its power to enhance it.
“We are seeking sustainable cruise tourism partnerships for the empowerment of all, not just for the benefit of a few,” he insisted.