Every day the effects of the pandemic are becoming more apparent. While we usually focus on how cruise lines are affected and their financial implications, there is a vast industry behind the cruise lines feeling the sting.
Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club, the famous beach club on Cozumel island, is undoubtedly one of those establishments that flourished under the good years of cruising, yet is undoubtedly feeling the lack of cruise ships calling at the island every day.
The beach resort has been a favorite destination for man cruise passengers due to its close proximity to the port. It’s just a 15 minute drive from the cruise piers located on the south side of the island. They also offered day long experiences and a range of beach activities.
On February 9, the resort posted a statement on their Facebook page detailing how badly the situation is not just for them but also many companies in Cozumel, the Caribbean, and worldwide.
When cruising was announced as coming back, already four months ago, the months of lack of income, lockdowns, and no guests were supposed to be over. However, as it turns out, most cruise lines will not be offering guests any opportunities to do any exploring on their own.
“A couple of months ago we heard that when cruising was back on track, they would not allow their guests to do activities on their own and that they would only be allowed to take their shore excursions. Their aim is to keep the protection bubble for their guests and staff; the objective is for them to be able to ensure safety for everyone on board.”
The so-called protective bubble means that guests will only be able to book tours offered by the cruise lines. According to Mr. Sancho’s, not only will the cruise lines not be calling on them, but many other tour operators will also be left out:
“Even though no Cruise Line had made an official announcement, we reached out to them and found out that Cruise Lines are not allowing any new tours or excursions. They will only work with some of the companies that already offered them tours and excursions before the pandemic, even limiting those and canceling some others for the time being.”
Mr. Sancho’s has been a favorite tour destination amongst the major cruise lines and as such it is understandable the resort is disappointed with the decision from both the CDC, and the cruise lines.
So while a return of cruising will be great for cruise lines, we cannot say the same for companies that have come to count on the income the ships have provided for many thousands of families worldwide.
What Are The Effects To The Caribbean Destinations?
The measures the cruise lines are taking are necessary. The question is what the added benefits are for ports, and countries, to allow cruise ships to come to their ports if the financial benefits are lacking.
On a typical day in Cozumel, a typical passenger and crew member will spend $119 on average. In the year 2017-2018, Cozumel led all Caribbean destinations with income from Cruise lines.
The port made a total of $474 million throughout the year, followed by the Bahamas with $406 million, Jamaica with $245 million, the Cayman Islands with $225 million, and the USVI with $185 million. These are significant amounts of money that the ports will be losing.
While Cozumel depends not only on the cruise industry, the income it generates counts for a significant part of the local economy. Already ports in the Caribbean are saying they will not allow cruise ships to visit because they feel the risks do not outweigh the financial benefits.
The investments made by many companies in the cruise ports of the Caribbean could well be a lost one. It seems unlikely the CDC will be allowing cruise lines to offer passengers free time in ports.
As it stands, the CDC’s framework for conditional sailing leaves no room for any deviations. Does that mean there are options for the ports to make up for the loss? Well, if the plans for being a homeport find traction, Cozumel could well have a reasonable solution.
Mr. Sancho’s remains hopeful for the future, and hope is there that the policies are temporary:
“We are hopeful that the comprehensible protection policies that are being taken by the Cruise Lines will be temporary, and they will soon allow their guests to visit the ports on their own so that tourists will be able to enjoy the different activities, services and beaches that each port offers; and that in Cozumel, and especially at Mr. Sancho’s, we will again create marvelous and unforgettable memories and experiences for the guests, and we will have the opportunity to pamper and serve them.”
For now, a great day out like many of us have had in places like Mr. Sancho’s in Cozumel, the Boatyard in Barbados, or the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands could be a thing of the past before the pandemic is well and truly over.
Main Photo Credit: Minichka / Shutterstock.com