With the cruise industry booming (even in this economy), port and resort towns throughout the Caribbean are facing a flurry of cruise crowds. Last year the Bahamas alone hosted more than 2.4 million cruisers, and George Town, Grand Cayman, is regularly visited by up to six ships a day, with a combined passenger capacity of more than 14,000 — well over a quarter of the 22-mile-long island’s total population. The largest islands may be able to hold the vacationing masses, but stepping off the ship at smaller ones is “like stepping into a tidal wave of people,”
While the average Caribbean cruiser spends $98 per port, according to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, bars and restaurants usually see less than $8 of that, since they’re competing, in part, with the ships’ free food. Hotels do even worse. And the size of the crowds alone can make doing business in the ports nearly impossible, turning off the onshore guests who pump money into tourism mainstays.
The cruise lines, for their part, say they’re doing plenty of crowd control. They point to an increase in staggered scheduling, meaning ships leave their home ports on various days, avoiding the gridlock that results when everyone sets sail on Saturday and returns a week later.
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