Caribbean: Still #1

The Caribbean maintains its position as the most popular cruise destination in the world, capturing more than 40 percent of all the passengers, despite the build up in the Mediterranean, South America and Australia.

With more ships, the trend line continues up as Cruise Industry News (CIN) estimates a record-breaking 7.5 million passengers in the region for the calendar year 2011, up 1.4 percent from last year.

Caribbean port authorities and tourism officials have taken up the challenge by upgrading their facilities and building new ports to accommodate the largest of the new ships

Market Volatility

As cruise stocks were climbing back up, and assumingly on their way to new heights, following optimistic 2011 forecasting by the publicly traded companies, oil prices are also on the rise, in addition to added costs from itinerary changes in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

The seasonality of the industry is also becoming more evident as Norwegian Cruise Line generated 100 percent of its net income in Q3 in 2011; Carnival, 66 percent in its fiscal Q3; and Royal Caribbean, 65 percent.

Falmouth Set for 3/22

Described as the first purpose-built cruise port in the Caribbean, Falmouth will be officially opened on March 22, when the Allure of the Seas will be calling, following a series of “test” calls since the first visit by the Voyager of the Seas on Feb. 17.

Speaking with Cruise Industry News from Falmouth, William Tatham, vice president of cruise shipping and marina operations for the Jamaica Port Authority, said that the new port is setting a new standard, benchmarking the Caribbean.

Hugh Darley, president and executive producer of IDEA, which has played a key role in the creation and planning of the port, said the 40-acre wharf complex will be able to accommodate one Oasis-class and one Freedom-class ship simultaneously and 16,000 people, including passengers, crew and local employees. He said there will be some 90 retail outlets, some commercial space, offices for tour operators, a port office and a small warehouse.

Already designated a historic town, Falmouth will take cruise passengers and land visitors 200 years back in time, when it was a bustling trade port for rum and sugar.

The wharf complex has been developed in cooperation with Royal Caribbean Cruises, which has preferential berthing rights, and will also manage the landside, including retail outlets.

The first phase of Falmouth is being developed at a total cost of some $213 million, with second and third phases to follow, including landside expansion with a boutique hotel and other facilities.

And there is moreCruise Industry News breaks down the leading operators in the Caribbean in 2011 in terms of ships, passenger capacity and changes from the prior year; Steiner Leisure, Grupo TMM and Hurtigruten report earnings for 2010; and Norwegian Cruise Line plans to raise ticket prices on April 1, driven by what it calls strong demand.

For the full reports, please read the March 3, 2011 edition of Cruise Industry News, the Newsletter, click here to subscribe.