IN an update on the cruise industry, the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) says it expects the number of visits to the island from cruise ships to replicate sub-par numbers in 2021, noting the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war and impending global recession as the main issues continuing to affect the industry.
"Considering the global cruise industry still remains in recovery mode, it is unlikely that Jamaica will realise the same number of calls in 2019 in 2022. Currently, almost 90 per cent of the global cruise fleet is back in revenue service, with a full return anticipated in the fall," PAJ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Professor Gordon Shirley recently told the Jamaica Observer.
An estimated 50 cruise ships visited the island's five ports between the months of November and December 2021. Cruise ports are located in Ocho Rios in St Ann, Montego Bay in St James, Port Antonio in Portland, Falmouth in Trelawny, and Port Royal in Kingston.
In the past the island pulled in a large amount of revenue over the winter season from cruise lines and their visitors. The winter season runs from mid-December through mid-April.
Professor Shirley said, "The two major challenges to the cruise industry are the war in Ukraine and the impending global recession. With regards to the Russian-Ukraine war, it has adversely impacted cruise deployment in the Baltic and European regions as one of the most popular ports of call, St Petersburg in Russia, is no longer available. The recession is a concern as it will impact the spending power of potential cruise passengers/tourists. However, the cruise industry has in the past proven to be recession-resilient and has managed to continue to grow through previous economic slowdowns."
The PAJ head, while projecting revenue for the period January to December at US$12 million, noted that maintenance works are ongoing in Ocho Rios and Port Antonio, and that a major upgrade is contemplated for Montego Bay.
"These works are expected to improve our cruise product in general, and in particular the cruise passenger experience," he said.
Cruise industry analysts had expected a year of full recovery in 2022 but then came the Russia/Ukraine war. Adam Coulter of the UK analysis source cruisecritic.com said in a recent publication..."pent-up demand already has led to a huge surge in bookings in 2022 and 2023 from cruisers who have had their trips cancelled or delayed because of the pandemic as well as new bookings from people who foresee cruising coming back safer than ever. However, the ongoing war and its impact on economies and shipping globally has thrown a spanner into the works."