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% 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% 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 cruise ship 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.