(CMR) A major player in the cruise industry, Carnival Cruise Line, has decided cancel calls to the port, Antigua starting this November.
The canceled visits are set to impact guests booked on Carnival Breeze, Carnival Magic, Carnival Legend and Carnival Pride starting from November 2019 with a loss of some 250,000 cruise visitors to that destination.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association (ABCTA), Nathan Dundas, says the island could lose a significant amount of money as a result of the decision of the Florida-based Carnival Cruise Lines to cancel several schedule calls.
According to Cruise Hive, Vance Gulliksen from Carnival Cruise Line told Cruise Hive the cruise industry is concerned about cost increases outlined in the new concession agreement making Antigua uncompetitive. He also mentioned that the government is clearly anti-cruise and ignores the significant economic impact the industry brings to the island. The cruise line would prefer to support Caribbean destinations which work well and support back.
The report speculates further on the real reason behind the decision stating that:
“Even though an official reason has been provided to us from Carnival there could be more behind it. The island making a multi-million dollar agreement with London-based Global Ports Holding. The agreement is set to expand the cruise port at Antigua. This is also the same company who recently announced a huge development investment for an expanded cruise port at Nassau, Bahamas. “
They also noted that the growing crime targeting cruise ship passengers in the port area could be a contributing factor.
Dundas said that the cruise line did not give them a reason for the cancellation adding â€śso all four ships booked commencing next season November 2019 to 2020 â€“ Breeze, Magic, Legend and Pride will be going to other ports.
â€śI am afraid that we may see more cancellations and it is indeed cause for concern as these cancellations will impact everyone business from store owners to tour operators and bars and restaurants etc.â€ť
It's reported that just last month, the Antigua and Barbuda government defended its decision to enter into a multiâ€“million dollar agreement with the London-based Global Ports Holdings (GPH) for the development of the cruise port in the capital.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that the US$83 million agreement with GPH would change the landscape of the island.
Despite these cancellations Max Fernandez, Minister of Tourism and Investment condemned what he called â€śunequivocally a misleading and scare-mongering statement made by a local shipping agent, Nathan Dundas, which serves the purposes of interested parties, other than the people of Antigua and Barbuda.â€ť
In his statement, the Minister of Tourism said that Carnival Cruise Lines make only three or four calls to Antigua and Barbuda annually. The Minister noted that at no time, did Dundas contact the Ministry, the Port Authority or the Tourism Authority prior to his statement and simply caused unnecessary fear among various stakeholders.