Taxi operators not buying tourism official statements “strong winds” are to be blamed for weekend ship cancellations

Taxi operators are not buying the statements by tourism officials that “strong winds” are to be blamed for back to back cancellations by cruise ships to St Kitts’ Port Zante on Sunday, 12 January and Monday, 13 January, although other ships were able berth without difficulty under “basically calm conditions.”

“Something is wrong. We are very unhappy. Port Zante is totally disorganised and taxi drivers are really hurting. We are hurting. Look at what is happening with the new pier and you get a glimpse of the confusion. We are really hurting as we see the piece of the pie gets smaller and smaller and smaller,” several taxi operators commented on Sunday as two ships were docked at the first cruise pier.

On January 11, 2020, the Tourism Authority said as a result of a weather bulletin by the St Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA), the 5,183 passenger Norwegian Epic was “unable to make its call to Port Zante on Sunday 12th January.” However, two other cruise ships – the 4,905-passenger Anthem of the Seas and the 4,080 passenger Norwegian Dawn, docked at Port Zante’s first pier under favourable weather and sea conditions.

The cancellation by the Norwegian Epic is the second successive cancellation following one on December 21 for which no reason was given by tourism authorities and the third for a Norwegian ship this season.

On January 13, 2020, the Tourism Authority in a statement said “due to strong winds, causing hazardous seas the 3,592 passenger Crown Princess is unable to call at Port Zante, today Monday, 13 January 2020.” However at the same time the lone cruise ship, the 1,378 passenger Marellla Celebration docked at the EC$150 million second cruise pier under favourable weather conditions.

On January 10, 2020, the Tourism Authority said the 2,669 passenger Marella Explorer II was unable to dock as a result of “hazardous seas and strong winds.” The weather was definitely “unsafe and a threat to life and property.”

The cancellation of the calls by the Norwegian Epic, the Crown Princess and the Marella Explorer bring to 12 the number of cancellations and loss of 61,801 cruise passengers at a time when the industry is projecting a decrease in the number of cruise ships and cruise passengers for the 2019/2020 cruise season compared to the 2018/2019 season.

The itinerary for 2019/2020 is projecting 420 cruise ship calls with an estimated 1,086,844 passengers compared to 447 cruise ship calls with an estimated 1,212,462 passengers for 2018/2019, a decrease of 10 percent and 6 percent respectively.