The 2016/17 cruise season is turning out to be a bumper season for St Kitts and Nevis. Congratulations to the Ministers (Federal & Local) and the governments of Team Unity and the Concerned Citizens Movement. Never before have we had so many ships in port on a single day and never before have we had so many ships to date in one season. It is the manifestation of an excellent strategy refined and executed by the Authorities.
Yet the sight, the hype and publicity surrounding 6 cruise ships in Port Basseterre at the same time, discharging 16,000 souls unto our shores has served in part, to highlight the difference between St Kitts and Nevis. Nevisians are asking when will thebig ships come to Nevis, when will multiple ships come and when will Nevis have pier-side docking for ships other than the inter-island ferries.
Boats of the sizes that dock in St Kitts are essentially all-expense paid affairs. Food is available all day, all night. Pier side docking as is done at Port Zante allows passengers the freedom to embark and disembark at will so they can enjoy on-ship meals even as they explore Basseterre. Land- side dining is minimal. Tendered passengers have less option to board at will and so do more landside dining to the delight of our restauranteurs.
Conventional wisdom tells us these cruise passengers are not big spenders like those who come on the smaller, more intimate, more expensive cruises, like those which come to Nevis. Research tells us that cruise passenger shopping is done mostly on the first and or last port of call. Logic tells us that tendered passengers are more likely to plan an entire day on shore than those who are dockside. It is also logical to assume that passengers at the Bird Rock pier are more likely to engage taxis than those who are docked in town.
Nevis provides an attractive “on-land” tourism product for the cruise industry of St Kitts. Thus, the cataramans, the party boats, even the 9:30 inter-island ferry are often heavily engaged in taking tourists over to Nevis. It is in recognition of this inter-island tourist movement – and to keep our standards high, that we call on the authorities to upgrade the St Kitts Ferry terminal as a matter of great urgency; moreso than the additional pier.
What has unfolded on our shores is the result of careful planning that is being executed to everybody’s benefit. Let us be thankful for this win-win situation.