Carnival Cancels Cruise Visits to Antigua

If you’ve been getting excited about your upcoming Carnival cruise that included a visit to the southern Caribbean island of Antigua, take a breath. Carnival Cruise Line just announced that it has canceled port calls to Antigua beginning this November.

Beachfront in Antigua
One of the 365 beaches in Antigua.

The reasoning behind the cancellations remains to be determined. Two weeks ago, Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne accused the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association of “exploiting the region”.

Nathan Dundas, president of Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association, voiced his opinion, “I am afraid that we may see more cancellations and it is indeed cause for concern as these cancellations will impact everyone business from Store Owners to Tour Operators and bars and restaurants etc.”

He continued, “Once Carnival has started the cancellation, unfortunately, I expect  to see cancellations from all of its brands. I wouldn’t  be surprised  to see Princess, Holland America, Seabourn   and other European Lines making  cancellations going forward.

As it stands now, Carnival ships that will not go to Antigua include Carnival Breeze, Carnival Legend, Carnival Magic and Carnival Pride.

Carnival’s reason for canceling Antigua

Carnival issued this explanation, “Government officials in Antigua have taken steps which indicate they don’t want cruise lines and our guests to visit. So for the time being, we are focusing our itineraries on the destinations that are more welcoming.”

The cruise line continued, “The cruise industry is concerned about the cost increases outlined in the new concession agreement making Antigua uncompetitive.  In addition, the rhetoric coming from the government is clearly anti-cruise and ignores the significant economic impact the industry brings to the island. We have built strong positive relationships with many Caribbean countries and would clearly prefer to support those that have supported us.”

Then there’s the money. Call it a head tax. As a result, all the Caribbean islands earn money from the cruise lines based on how many passengers arrive at their islands. Of course the islands want a certain price and the cruise lines would rather pay less than asked. Maybe neither could agree and so that’s part of the reason for Carnival canceling visits to Antigua.

On the flip-side, Antigua just signed a $83M cruise port development contract with GPH (Global Port Holdings), the company that has the leading bid in the redevelopment of the Nassau, Bahamas port infrastructure.

Substitute ports

It looks like Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and St. Kitts in the southern Caribbean will be substituted for the port of St. John, Antigua. Non-Carnival Corporation cruise lines that as of now will visit Antigua from November and on include Celebrity, Norwegian,  Oceania, Regent, Royal Caribbean and Silversea.

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