A dispute is brewing in the Bahamas over a tug boat fee that the government plans to charge cruise ships and other commercial vessels using the harbor of Nassau.

Earlier this week, the Bahamas Tribune reported that the Miami-based cruise industry believes that it does not need tug service in the port of Nassau.

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA), through its president Michele Paige, told the Tribune newspaper that the cruise industry was “fundamentally opposed” to paying for the tug service in Nassau harbor. FCCA is claiming that the new fee will result in additional unwarranted costs, which will make the Bahamas cruise experience “more expensive.”

The two new tug boats, named Tug Samson and Tug Rose, will be operated by a 100% Bahamian-owned and operated company, called Tug Services Ltd, according to the Tribune. The Bahamas has come to the conclusion that the new tugs are necessary to maintain adequate services for the Port of Nassau commercial vessels calling at its port. Bahamian officials cite the need for reliable service during poor weather and in emergencies, in addition to regular tug services needed for firefighting, oil spill recovery, salvage capabilities and the safe movement of cruise and cargo ships in and out of the harbor.

The Bahamas is attempting to upgrade Nassau’s cruise port, at Prince George Wharf, to reverse declining revenues from passenger spending at the port.

The FCCA always disputes any cost increases which are levied against the cruise lines. The FCCA even fought against the reasonable attempts to increase the pilotage fees sought by the Biscayne Bay Pilots here in Miami.

As I have said before many times, the only cost increases permitted by the cruise lines are those levied against their guests for things like mandatory tips and gratuities, drink increases or room service charges. The cruise industry likes to demand control everything it touches, whether it is the taxes imposed by the state of Alaska for environmental protection and infrastructure, or the minimal head taxes of the poor Caribbean ports. It steals the tips intended from its powerless foreign crew members and nickels and dimes all of its passengers to collect every penny it can.

But paying for the costs of two new tugs in one of its most popular cruise ports?  $700 for a tug into port in Nassau? No way says the FCCA, even though the cruise industry collects tens of millions of dollars with increased gratuities and on on-board charges.

A Bahamian cabinet minister is defending the mandatory tug boat fee for Nassau harbor, telling the Bahamian newspaper that “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Nassau reportedly may be an easy port for cruise ships to dock in but it has not stopped Florida-based cruise lines from occasionally smashing into its docks, as a Disney cruise ship proved last year (video below). Perhaps a couple of well maintained tugs would help. The cruise industry seems to smash into piers in numerous cruise ports from time to time, like in Roatan, Ketchikan, Buenos Aires, Baltimore, Nice, Messina, PireausMarseille, and New York to name a few. But the majority of these incidents are not friendly little fender-benders like the Disney cruise ship mishap in Nassau.

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Photo credit: Port of Nassau – View of Prince George Wharf – TampAGS wikipedia – creative commons 3.0

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Ilekd7_Kodw%3Frel%3D0

 

El Salvador CruiseThe U.S. Department of State issued another warning to U.S. citizens that crime and violence in El Salvador continue to be at high levels. U.S. citizens traveling to El Salvador should remain alert to their surroundings. This travel warning supersedes the last warning (November 21, 2014). 

Since January 2010, 34 U.S. citizens have been murdered in El Salvador with only 6 convictions of those murders.  During the same time period, 419 U.S. citizens were victims of crime including violent crimes.

Like other Central American countries, El Salvador lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases and to deter violent crime.

Last year, we picked El Salvador to be the ninth most dangerous cruise destination in the world. Here’s what I wrote: 

"El Salvador is one of a few countries which is subject to a "critical" crime warning from the U.S. State Department. It has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. In 2012, it suffered from a murder rate of 69 per 100,000 people. By comparison, the murder rate in Massachusetts, with a similar geographical area and population, was 2.6 per 100,000. Murders and crimes against U.S. citizens are rarely solved."

Fox News picked El Salvador as the second most dangerous cruise port in the world. There are two cruise ports, La Union and Acajutia. The major cruise lines avoid them but Fred Olsen has sailed there and Azamara is scheduled to do so next year.

The latest murder rates (2014) is 68.6 per 100,000 inhabitants (the U.S. murder rate is less than 5 per 100,000). There are numerous violent gangs. In addition to violent crime, a common crime affecting U.S. tourists credit is card skimming. U.S. citizens have been victimized at well-known restaurants, hotels, and El Salvador retailers.

This year I visited the El Salvador booth at Cruise Shipping Miami (photo above).

Last month, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) held its 2015 regional meeting in El Salvador to promote cruising to Central American countries. 

In March, El Salvador Tourism Minister José Napoleón Duarte (photo) met FCCA / Carnival chairman Micky Arison at Cruise Shipping Miami in March to promote his country to the cruise industry.

You will find no mention of this latest crime warning by the FCCA, CLIA, Carnival, or El Salvador tourism representatives. 

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Photo Credit: top Jim Walker; bottom seatrade-cruise