Kenneth Bryan, the Cayman Islands’ minister of tourism and transport, welcomes Disney Cruise Line staff to the Cayman Islands. (photo courtesy of Cayman Islands Department of Tourism)
Reaching an agreement to operate cruise itineraries following two years of pandemic-induced inactivity, the Cayman Islands government and the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) trade group, representing 90 percent of the global cruising capacity, announced a “tailored strategic agreement” for cruise lines operating voyages calling at the Grand Cayman port.
Traditionally among the busiest Caribbean cruise ports (the Cayman Islands hosted 1.83 million cruise visitors in 2019, third-most among destinations tracked by the Caribbean Tourism Organization), the territory is also a key port of call for operators of Caribbean cruise itineraries calling at nearby regional ports.
The Cayman Islands recently re-launched cruise ship visits following meetings with industry officials and Cayman government and health officials and a site visit by FCCA and cruise line officials.
“Safely and successfully welcoming cruise passengers back to the Cayman Islands has been one of our top priorities,” said Kenneth Bryan, the Cayman Islands’ minister of tourism and transport. Bryan described cruise activity as, “Of significant importance to our local tourism industry and community.”
He added, “We are grateful to have like-minded partners such as the FCCA, that not only wish to return to the Cayman Islands but will work strategically with us to enhance the cruise experience.”
Via the agreement, FCCA member lines will “collaborate with the Cayman Islands government on enhancing their product and increasing cruise calls,” while “[Facilitating] new experiences to offer cruise companies and [working] with the local private sector to maximize any opportunities.”
“This new agreement shows the momentum both FCCA and destinations are gaining with cruise tourism’s continued recovery,” said Micky Arison, chairman of FCCA and of member operator Carnival Corporation & plc.
“The Cayman Islands has been a long-standing partner of the industry and I am honored that this agreement signifies the return of a premier cruise destination, along with the rebound of so many lives and livelihoods,” said Arison.
“Through this agreement FCCA will fulfill the Cayman Islands’ initiatives, which focus on assisting the private sector, improving employment [and] fostering cruise lines’ purchase of local goods,” said Michele Paige, FCCA’s CEO. She said the agreement will also “Help Caymanians prosper from the economic impact that the industry brings.”
Cruise tourism generated $224.54 million in total expenditures and $92.24 million in employee wage income in the Cayman Islands during the 2017/2018 cruise year, according to the Business Research & Economic Advisors report “Economic Contribution of Cruise Tourism to the Destination Economies.”
Under the agreement, Cayman officials will benefit from new and renewed FCCA sub-committees focused on employment and purchasing. The sub-committees will conduct “a series of meetings and site visits focused on the Cayman Islands’ objectives.”
The strategic partnership will also feature “a focus on converting cruise guests to stay-over visitors, promoting summer cruising, engaging travel agents, creating consumer demand and developing a destination service needs assessment that will detail strengths, opportunities, and need,” said FCCA officials.
“For decades, cruise tourism has been intrinsic to the Cayman Islands identity,” said Rosa Harris, the Cayman Islands director of tourism. “As a luxury lifestyle destination, our delicious food, award-winning beaches, five-star amenities, and friendly wildlife are meant to be shared among friends and global travelers.”
She added, “Through this partnership with FCCA, we are eager to further elevate our tourism product and welcome a new generation of adventure-seekers aboard cruise ships.”