Royal Caribbean leaving region; officials concerned

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday March 9, 2011 – Royal Caribbean cruise line is slashing a major part of the region’s summer cruise business come summer 2012.

The company has announced that it’s repositioning its ship, Serenade of the Seas, from the Caribbean to Europe, and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has expressed concern about the loss.

Secretary General Hugh Riley said the CTO is aware that repositioning is a normal course of business within the cruise sector, particularly during the summer months.

However, members of CTO’s Executive Council of Ministers at a recent meeting, indicated the need to discuss the matter of summer cruising with some of the industry’s key players, with a view to developing strategies for improving the competitiveness of the Caribbean for summer cruising.

“We recognize that the strong comparative advantage that we have in the Caribbean in the winter months changes in the summer,” Riley said. But he added that while seasonal adjustments in cruise traffic to the Caribbean region are not uncommon, the situation now merits closer attention, particularly in the southern Caribbean where winter cruising continues to be strong, but summer traffic has become the victim of high fuel costs and geography.

The cruise industry is a significant component of the region’s tourism mix and the Caribbean remains a highly desirable cruising destination.

In 2010 the region’s cruise passenger arrivals grew by six per cent, continuing the phenomenal growth experienced over the past four decades with the numbers climbing from just over one million cruise visits in 1970 to over 20 million last year. CTO leaders want this strong consumer demand for the region in the cruise industry to be developed year round, with more summer business resulting.

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