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#454837 - 01/09/13 07:47 AM Problems for Carnival Cruise Line in Belize
Marty Offline
Tender Problems for Carnival Cruise Line Cause Problems in Belize, Cayman Islands

Carnival has pulled nine sailings on two ships out of Belize in light of tender congestion, and, according to reports, is threatening to pull out of the Cayman Islands in response to an increase in tender passenger fees.

Cruise Critic learned of the port of call cancellations from John Heald's Facebook page. Heald is the line's senior cruise director and a popular cruise blogger. On the nine affected sailings, all on either Carnival Glory or Carnival Legend, the port of Belize will be replaced with calls in Costa Maya.

Though Heald said the changes were "purely for operational reasons," Cruise Critic has learned from Carnival the changes are in fact due to port and tender congestion.

"Although we have a confirmed berth in Belize, local officials accepted calls for additional ships," Carnival said in a letter. "Consequently, their tender capacity is not able to effectively handle the increased volume of guests without creating long delays and limiting your time ashore. Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to come to an acceptable agreement with Belize Port Authority regarding this situation."

Carnival canceled a handful of Belize calls two years ago around this time, also because of problems with tenders. At the time Carnival said the available tenders did not meet its standards for safe, comfortable and efficient transport.

Carnival also might cancel port calls in Grand Cayman because of tender problems. According to local news source cayCompass.com, Carnival is threatening to pull out of the Cayman Islands altogether if a proposed price increase for passenger tendering is approved.

Cayman Marine, which operates the 16 tenders that take passengers to and from ships in George Town harbor, has proposed a 75 cent price increase per passenger, levied in three phases throughout 2013. The first 25 cent raise already went into effect January 1. The next 25 cent increase is set for June. The company asserts the increase, its first in five years, will address rising labor, fuel, maintenance and material costs.

Carnival Cruise Line would not comment on the report it is threatening to pull out of Cayman Islands, instead referring to comments from Michele Paige, president of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, of which Carnival is a member.

"The increase in tendering fees is going to severely affect the amount of tonnage coming into Cayman," Paige is quoted as saying in cayCompass.com. "I'm not in a position to speak on behalf of individuals and members, only for the industry, but the industry is troubled.

Paige also intimated the increases could "drastically affect" the number of ships arriving in Grand Cayman. Carnival has 227 arrivals scheduled for Grand Cayman in 2013.

A spokesman for Cayman Marine said it is still in negotiations with cruise operators.


#454894 - 01/10/13 06:43 AM Re: Problems for Carnival Cruise Line in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Cruise Ships Cancel Calls

In last night's newscast, we told you about the US Embassy's travel advisory about Belize City sent out in the aftermath of the quadruple murders. Well, it caused some issues for the local tour operators today.

As viewers are aware, the tour operators only make money on the ship days, which happened to be today. But according to those operators we spoke to today, they had mass cancellations of were pre-booked tours because the captains of the 4 ships today made announcements to the guests that Belize City isn't safe. That represents a major loss in earnings for operators - and they weren't happy!

7News spoke to Yhony Rosado of Cavetubing.com who explained the effects of the Dean Street mass murder on his business:

Yhony Rosado - Cavetubing.com
2:00:18 We have been impacted because we got a lot of cancellations this morning stating that the captain on the ships are announcing that if you're not booked with them, you should not come ashore because the city is not safe. That is the announcement, point-blank, made by the captain of the ships. We have got a lot of emails and text messages from our guests."

Daniel Ortiz
"And how many tours have been cancelled so far, sir?"

Yhony Rosado
"About 50% of our tours have been cancelled because we are the freelance tours. There are people who book with us for many factors, finance or different budgets."

Daniel Ortiz
"How many people out here are not going to get anything out of these tours that are cancelled?"

Yhony Rosado "As the cameras can show behind me, there are a lot of us who are going to be without jobs today."

Geovanni Brackett - Plus TV
"Are you hoping that sometime soon, order can be restored, that things can get back to normal?"

Yhony Rosado
"Well, we have already emailed our guests and let them know that it is not the entire city that's dangerous, it was only a part of Belize. We are telling them that we can safely go through our tours, and the BTB has sent out messages to us that we should not do any city tours today. We are doing our best to protect our guests, as to protect or lives and livelihood. We have to protect our guys, our business, and everything else. So, if we know that a part of Belize have a problem, we don't go there. So, nobody has to send an announcement, and what the ship is doing is bit dangerous because they are sending their guests to the city, but they are telling our guests not to come ashore. So, it's a bit contradictory."

As you heard briefly in the interview, the tour operators were also discontent because the captains didn't hassle those guests who book tours in Belize through the cruise ship, and sent them ashore without any difficulty while those who booked with 3rd parties were discouraged from entering the city.

Our newsroom also contacted other tour operators who said that they were aware that the incident could have these effects on their business.

But, that's not the only problem that the operators are facing. According to international reports, the cruise company, Carnival, has cancelled several port calls to Belize due to, quote, "growing congestion".

The Carnival Legend skipped a port call to Belize in December, and Carnival Glory will skip 9 calls to Belize for the rest of the season - representing the loss of thousands of over ten thousand visitors.

The congestion they're referring to is with the tenders - the boats that bring the tourists to shore. According to international news reports, Carnival says that quote, "(Belize's) tender capacity is not able to effectively handle the increased volume of guests without creating long delays and limiting…time ashore. Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to come to an acceptable agreement with Belize Port Authority regarding this situation."

Those reports say that Carnival is threatening to pull out of the Cayman Islands altogether if a proposed price increase for passenger tendering is approved.

Belize and Cayman are the only two Caribbean Cruise destinations that do not have a berthing facility - meaning a Tourism Village where Cruise Ships can pull right up to shore.

Channel 7

#454900 - 01/10/13 07:01 AM Re: Problems for Carnival Cruise Line in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Carnival Cruises by Belize without stopping

Tom Greenwood

According to the Belize Tourism Board, arrivals peaked last year with record numbers of visitors. But to start the year and in the height of the high season, one of the biggest cruise lines, Carnival Cruise line has cancelled ten stops in Belize for 2013, starting as early as this week.  That can have a huge negative effect on numerous sectors of the industry. The port, according to Carnival, has the capacity to accommodate four large ships, but five ships are scheduled to visit on the ten dates in question. The cruise line, in a letter to its customers, raises concerns that the tenders will not be able to “effectively handle the increased volume of guests without creating long delays and limiting your time ashore.” Locally, the tour operators stand to lose big bucks for tours that were already pre-booked. Tom Greenwood, the president of the Federation of Cruise Tourism Associations of Belize (FECTAB) the future of the two ships visiting Belize is unclear.

Tom Greenwood, President, FECTAB

“They cancelled Glory, which was a regular comer then it stopped for about a year and now it was scheduled to come again and now we’re told Glory is cancelled permanently so that’s one ship out of the picture. They cancelled Legend, which was to have visited today. Legend traditionally is a Thursday ship and that has been cancelled, we are told, indefinitely; we don’t know what exactly is going to happen. We don’t know that it was rescheduled to go to Costa Maya in Mexico in Yucatan and we saw a letter, written by Carnival to one of the guests, who had complained about wanting to come to Belize and saying that in fact, tendering issues and sort of laying the blame at the door of the Belize Tourism Board, which I can personally tell you is not true. They said tendering issues, involving tendering in Belize and that “we’re going to Costa Maya and we will an extra hour to your shore time; something that we have been hollering about for years; the short time provided by Carnival ships in Belize and now they’re going to give them an extra hour in Costa Maya. In good street gutter language, it sucks.”

Delahnie Bain

“So what kind of an impact do you expect to have on our tourism industry?”

Tom Greenwood

“Well, once a ship is cancelled, many bookings that have taken place with the regular operators or what we call the independent operators, which are part and parcel of FECTAB, are let down. We lose a lot of passengers and therefore a lot of revenue, a lot of revenue does not go for Belizean families.”


Delahnie Bain

“So for these calls that were cancelled, there were already bookings for tours and so on?”

Tom Greenwood

“There were bookings for months on end. Some of the operators told me that they have bookings right down into May. It happens; people plan. I’ve seen bookings right into the end of 2013. So I know that people want to ensure that they are on the list of yes, we can do it when we come to Belize because Belize is a high demand destination.”

Channel 5

#454901 - 01/10/13 07:02 AM Re: Problems for Carnival Cruise Line in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Life not a carnival for operators without 28,000 visitors

Two stops by the Carnival Legend, which carries two thousand, one hundred and twenty-four passengers, were canceled; one this week and one in December. The other eight calls being cancelled in the coming months are for the Carnival Glory; a two thousand, nine hundred and seventy-four passenger ship. If you do the math, that’s twenty-eight thousand and forty visitors who won’t make it to Belize and Greenwood lays the blame on Carnival. He says it’s time to review the agreements with the cruise ships.

Tom Greenwood, President, FECTAB

“The B.T.B. has been trying to accommodate but we are now seeing that we’ve got to all sit down in the industry, public and private sector, and rehash the agreement with these ships. It’s time to write a new agreement. I like the Cayman agreement; they have a spectacular system over there and we’re trying to get a copy of their agreement, which we hope to present to the Tourism Board—and I’m sure that they are capable of getting it as well—but it is time the industry sat down, private and public sector and rewrote our agreement with the cruise ships. I personally, and so does my federation, want to see more native Belizeans benefit from the ships coming to Belize. That is for sure.”

Delahnie Bain

“And what does this mean for us doing business with Carnival going forward?”

Tom Greenwood

“Well, I think the time has come for us to say look Carnival, we welcome you to Belize, we welcome you to our shores, but I’m sorry, you’re going to have to do things our way. We bear in mind that you need to make a profit, we bear in mind that you want to make your cruises to Belize ongoing, we welcome that but it’s time to do it our way. I’m sorry, I’m going to adopt an attitude here; where the cruise ships are concerned it’s our way or the highway.”

Delahnie Bain

“And do we have any other—apart from Legend and Glory—other Carnival ships that will continue coming in?”

Tom Greenwood

“Yes, we do have the Dream, we have Magic and a couple of others.”

While he disagrees with Carnival Cruise Line’s approach, Greenwood concedes that five ships in one day is chaotic. Meanwhile, the Belize Tourism Board says it is still dialoguing with Carnival and other cruise lines to get the calls back on schedule. According to Laura Esquivel-Frampton, the Acting Director of Tourism, the B.T.B. and the Ministry have been doing everything possible to try to alleviate Carnival’s concerns with the tender and port situation, and they are disappointed with the cancellations since other cruise lines were satisfied. And while there will be a reduction in forecasted tourism numbers, 2013 is still expected to be a successful year. It was also noted that a meeting was held with the Florida Cruise Association this morning and Carnival was the only member that did not attend.

Channel 5

#454903 - 01/10/13 07:08 AM Re: Problems for Carnival Cruise Line in Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Travel warning affects independent cruise operators

Yesterday, Belize City was in a state of panic following the murders of the four men of George Street. So much so that the Regional Security Officer for the United States embassy issued a travel warning to US citizens traveling to Belize. That warning has permeated the cruise industry – or at least in part. According to independent cruise operators, many text messages were sent out saying that they have been advised by the captain of the ship not take any tours because it is too dangerous. President of FECTAB Tom Greenwood alleges that the captain is being unfair because the warnings are being given only to those tourists who have booked with independent tour guides; but those that booked through the ships are being allowed to leave freely. 

President of FECTAB Tom Greenwood ;

Among us we got word that the islands in the north are warning their guests not to come to Belize City because of the danger.  I can understand that, but that is an internal thing. That's where it's starting to go wrong.  Where it's gone terribly wrong in the cruse industry is that we get texts now from our guests on the ship to us on shore, telling us that the captains of the ships are telling the independent guests, those who are not brought on board, not to come ashore because of the danger and because of the warning by the United States Travel Advisory.  However, the guests who have bought on board, they're coming ashore whily-nilly.

According to Tom Greenwood, this has happened before and the BTB had to intervene. In Greenwood’s opinion – BTB will have to do so again. Greenwood says that BTB needs to advocate to have the agreement between the cruise ships to Belize change. 

President of FECTAB Tom Greenwood ;
This is BTB territory. This is where they can exercise their full-blown strength and make sure these things stop happening. As a matter of fact, I'll tell you the truth, I urge the BTB and the Ministry of Tourism to call a meeting soon enough with all the players in the cruse industry.  It is time we rewrite the agreement with the cruse ships to Belize.  It's time, high time, because obviously some of them are not living up to the past agreement. So it's time that we got control of this industry again, for the majority of Belizeans.

Yhony Rosado says that because of the warning, they will lose at least 50 % of their business. 

Yhony Rosado:
About 50% of our tours have been cancelled, 'cause we are the freelance tours.  We have already emailed our guests and let then know our city is not dangerous, it was only an area of Belize, and so we can safely go to our tours and come back,  The BTB have sent messages to us that we should not do any tours today.  So we're doing our job to protect our guests, to protect our lives. We have to protect our guides, our business, our guests, protect everything.  If a certain area of Belize have a problem, we don't go there. Nobody have to send an announcement.  What the ship is doing is a bit kind of dangerous, because they're sending their guests to the city, yet they announce it to all guests that book freelance, do not come ashore.

We note that the one cruise line has cancelled coming to Belize, but that is because Belize cannot handle five or more ships due to the lack of facilities.



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