Mega ships have implications for Caribbean cruise destinations

BASSETERRE, St Kitts, September 26, 2006 – With the era of larger cruise ships, the Caribbean has been told that there could be  implications for their popular ports of call.

Chief Executive Officer of the St Kitts shipping agent, Delisle Walwyn & Co., Denzil V. Crooke said there is the potential that the gap between the luxury on the ship and quality Caribbean destinations could very well widen and this presents challenges.

He noted that earlier this year that the awesome Freedom of the Seas was the talk of the world when the mega ship was launched by Royal Caribbean. It has a capacity of 4,300 passengers and was then the largest ship in the fleet but that ship will soon be dwarfed by the sister vessel Genesis. The ship cost US$1.24 billion is now on order by Royal Caribbean. It will have a capacity of more than 6,000 passengers.  The ship will weigh about 100,000 tons based on displacement – a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier comes in at about 97,000 tons. It is due to sail in 2009 and the question is whether Caribbean countries are ready to accommodate these mega vessels.

“It can place severe pressure on the facilities that we have in St. Kitts. Today, we boast that we are one of two ports that can accommodate the ‘Queen Mary 2’ and we are happy about that, but what about facing up to the possibilities of the ‘Genesis’ craft.  The QM2 is stunted because the Genesis project speaks to a ship that is 360 meters longer than the QM2 and hence I speak of the pressure that is placed on our own facilities,” said Crooke.

He said the order book for cruise lines speaks to 28 vessels between now and 2009 being built at a total cost of about U$16.5 billion. Each ship averages over 2,500 passengers.

In Barbados, in order to accommodate the QM2 last year the port authority had to deepen its channel to the Bridgetown Harbour.