March 13, 2019
(Updated March 14, 2:07 p.m. EDT) -- Carnival Cruise Line has removed the port of St. John's, Antigua, from its upcoming cruise itineraries. Carnival Breeze, Carnival Legend, Carnival Magic and Carnival Pride will no longer sail to the island, as scheduled, when the winter season commences in November 2019.
The decision follows a new contract between Antigua and Global Ports Holding (GPH), a cruise port management company, which was announced in February. Outlined in the new concession agreement are cost increases that Carnival Corp. & plc -- Carnival Cruise Line's parent company -- said make Antigua "uncompetitive."
"We are clearly concerned about the direction the government of Antigua has taken in regards to its port and we have discussions underway with the government to see if we can resolve the issues," Roger Frizzell, Carnival Corp.'s senior vice president and chief communications officer, told Cruise Critic. "Our focus, all along, has been to grow the business for the benefit of Antigua, its business community and our cruise brands and guests. To accomplish this, we need to have competitive pricing and retain our historical berthing capabilities. We look forward to working with the government on these important topics."
Carnival Cruise Line is one of many cruise lines under the Carnival Corp. umbrella. Sister brands including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn and more could follow suit, though no additional itinerary changes have been confirmed. Other lines such as Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises and MSC Cruises also are scheduled to call on Antigua and Barbuda in 2019.
A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line, however, told Cruise Critic the line will continue to call on St. John's as planned.
Meanwhile, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association also weighed in on Antigua and Barbuda's recent actions.
"The FCCA is disappointed in the anti-cruise rhetoric coming from Government and as always is prepared to meet face to face with Government and review the many benefits that the cruise industry brings to Antigua and Barbuda," said Michele Paige, president of the FCCA, in a statement to Cruise Critic.
"The FCCA has a three decade long successful track record of helping destinations maximize the economic impact from cruise tourism, one average ship call contributes a half million US dollars to the economy of the destinations in the Caribbean," Paige said. "The people of Antigua and Barbuda are very important to the cruise industry, and we wish you every success in your future endeavors."
Cruise Critic has contacted all cruise lines with scheduled stops in Antigua and Barbuda, as well as representatives for the country and the Caribbean Tourism Organization, for comment. We will update this story as more information becomes available.