Amid increasing pressure from Carnival Cruise Line and its agents in Saint Lucia, Cox & Company Limited, Invest Saint Lucia has internally retracted a statement to tenants at Point Seraphine two weeks ago regarding Carnival’s threat to pull out if the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) relocates them to La Place Carenage.
An internal memorandum dated May 14, 2014, from the Marketing and Operations Manager of Point Seraphine to tenants, indicated that Carnival Cruise Line knew nothing about the claims by SLASPA.
According to the manager Ms. Nesa Constantine, the agents for Carnival Cruise Lines in Saint Lucia have made it clear that “this sentiment was never expressed by the cruise line” and there was never any threat to pull their ships from the island, neither the intention to relocate.
While the recent memorandum debunked SLASPA’s previous statement, it never provided the actual reason for relocating the ship or why such a letter went out in the first place. This new development has attracted the attention of former minister with responsibility for Ports Services in Saint Lucia, Guy Joseph, who is now calling on the portfolio’s current holder Philip J. Pierre to clear the air.
Joseph asserts recent information regarding this issue has raised serious questions to which only SLASPA and the minister can provide answers.
“The first letter was sent to the tenants indicating that Carnival Cruise Line had threatened the Government if they were not relocated,” said Joseph. “I found that very odd, because everybody knows the cruise line was supposed to be on the Point Seraphine side and not on the La Place Carenage side.”
He went on to explain that according to protocol “there is an agreement signed by the government and the Cruise Line which indicates the port they will use for berthing. The arrangement is revisited annually so cruise ships come in knowing they are assigned a particular berth.”
He said SLASPA would be principally responsible for coordinating the entry of all cruise vessels into the port, according to the annual contract, but Invest Saint Lucia owns and manages Point Seraphine, hence the reason for the memorandum to tenants of Point Seraphine who are directly affected in the event of a relocation.
He added that speculation has been rife regarding the real reason for the relocation of Carnival Cruise Line. “I have heard some people saying there was no water at the port and so SLASPA had to relocate the ship. But if water were the reason it would raise more questions. When we had the drought in 2010 there was never a problem. A problem with the tender has also been cited but Royal Caribbean went in there on Thursday and was able to berth without any issues. Carnival went back to the other side; so obviously, something’s amiss.
“We are still left with many questions regarding this situation which could have caused Saint Lucia to lose a major cruise line. We need to know why the ship moved to the other side and who or what caused Invest Saint Lucia to issue a letter to the tenants expressing false sentiments on behalf of Carnival Cruise Line. That person must be held accountable.”
An Executive Manager at Caribbean Cruise Line has expressed disappointment with the recent news and says that the claims made in the initial letter are “very serious.”
When asked whether the Cruise Line will be taking legal action, the manager declined comment.
No official word has been issued on the matter by either the Minister for Tourism, Lorne Theophilus nor the minister with responsibility for Ports Services, Philip J. Pierre.