With each passing day, the consequences of the pandemic become more apparent. While we tend to focus on the suffering of cruise ships and its financial impact, there is a huge industry behind the cruise ships that feels the pain.
Mr. Sancho’s Beach Club, the famous beach club on the island of Cozumel, is certainly one of those establishments that have thrived in the good years of cruises, while certainly feeling the pinch of the lack of cruise ships stopping daily on the island.
The resort is popular with cruise passengers because of its proximity to the harbor. It is just a 15-minute drive from the cruise docks, which are located on the southern part of the island. It is also the place to spend the day and enjoy various beach activities.
On February 9, the station posted a statement on its Facebook page outlining the seriousness of the situation, not only for the station itself, but also for many businesses in Cozumel, the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
When the return of the cruise was announced, it had been four months, with no receipts, no blockades and no guests. However, it turned out that most cruise lines did not allow their customers to explore on their own.
“We heard a few months ago that when cruises resume, they will not allow their customers to do their own business and will only allow shore excursions. Their goal is to maintain a protective bubble for their guests and employees; the goal is to ensure the safety of everyone on board.”
The “bubble of protection” means that customers can only book trips offered by cruise lines. According to Mr. Sancho, not only will the cruise lines not stop, but many other tour operators will be left out:
“Although none of the cruise lines have made an official announcement, we have contacted them and learned that the cruise lines are not allowing any new visits or excursions. They will only work with some of the companies that offered tours and excursions before the pandemic, or even restrict and cancel others for now.”
Mr. Sancho was a popular destination with the major cruise lines, so it is understandable that the station is disappointed with the decision of the CDC and the cruise lines.
So while the return of the cruise ships will be great for the cruise lines, the same cannot be said for the companies that have relied on the revenue the ships have brought to thousands of families around the world.
Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive
What are the implications for Caribbean destinations?
The measures on cruise ships are necessary. The question arises as to what additional benefits can ports and countries receive for allowing cruise ships to call at their ports in the absence of financial benefits.
On a typical day in Cozumel, the average passenger and crew member spends $119. In 2017-2018, Cozumel led all Caribbean destinations in cruise sales.
The total cost of port maintenance was $474 million, followed by the Bahamas with $406 million. These are significant amounts that the ports are in danger of losing.
Although Cozumel is not solely dependent on the cruise industry, the revenue it generates is important to much of the local economy. Already, Caribbean ports have stated that they will not accept cruise ships because they believe the risks do not outweigh the financial benefits.
Many corporate investments in Caribbean cruise ports may be lost. It seems unlikely that the CDC would allow cruise lines to give passengers free time at ports.
In its current form, the CDC leaves no room for deviation. Does this mean that the ports have resources to make up for the losses? If the plans to become a home port become reality, Cozumel might have a reasonable solution.
Mr. Sancho remains hopeful for the future, and it is hoped that this policy is only temporary:
“We hope that Cruise Lines’ clear protection policy is only temporary and that customers will soon be able to visit the ports themselves, allowing tourists to enjoy the various activities, services and beaches that each port offers; and that in Cozumel, and especially with Mr. Sancho, we will once again create wonderful and unforgettable memories and experiences for customers and have the opportunity to pamper and serve them.”
Right now, a big day like the one many of us spent in places like Mr. Sancho’s in Cozumel, the Boat Yard in Barbados or the Wet Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands might be a thing of the past before the pandemic is over.
Main photo credit : Minichka / Shutterstock.com