The cruise port of Belize, known for some of the best scuba diving, an eclectic array of foods and wine, snorkeling or just knowing you have seen the Western hemisphere’s longest barrier reef, is in trouble. Not because of environmental issues, severe tropical weather or other problems common to Caribbean ports of call. Belize is suffering from a lack of cruise passengers, a wound-like boycott some say is self-inflicted.
Recently, some major cruise lines have canceled calls to Belize because of a dispute with tender operators over price. It seems Belize tender operators, the people that run the little boats back and forth between the big cruise ships that are too large to dock shore-side, want more than the cruise lines are willing to pay.
“According to reports, the parties are working toward a resolution” said cruise expert Stewart Chiron CEO of CruiseGuy.com adding “but Belize was changed for two Carnival ships last week which were rerouted to Grand Cayman and Costa Maya and three ships will be diverted this week.”
Tender operators want between $6.54 and $8.54 per passenger to take them from the cruise ships to shore and back. Cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, want to pay about $5.00 per passenger. But the dispute is not only about price.
“Carnival wants larger capacity tender boats, 150 passenger minimum, to accommodate their larger ships. Smaller tender boats are creating large back logs and delays getting passengers to/ from the ships” added Chiron, noting “Belize has many beautiful coral reefs that are being protected and require cruise ships to anchor farther out.”
Eventually, the Belize government may have to choose between making it possible for cruise ships to dock shoreside or lose them altogether.
Flickr photo by anoldent