Thursday, July 26, 2007

From the sky is not falling department:

For the second time in two days yesterday, newspaper readers in Central Florida read that cruise lines are abandoning Port Canaveral and the port is negotiating to try to keep them. The Orlando Sentinel article (that we already wrote about) covering the negotiations with Disney Cruise Line, eventually gets around to letting readers know that Disney is not likely to move all their ships out of the port. The Florida Today article, which expands the focus to all three cruise lines at the port, never points out to their readers that the lines have no intention leaving the port entirely.

The reporters, who don't cover the cruise industry regularly, don't seem to realize that in each of the cases cited of ships leaving the port, it really has nothing negative to do with Port Canaveral, but rather other seasonal opportunities to make more money with the ships elsewhere. They say that in order to stay, the cruise lines want the port to spend money on upgrading the terminals, but before doing so, the port is wanting long-term commitments from the cruise lines to stay at the port. What they don't mention (or realize) is that these terminal upgrades are necessary because the lines want to base newer and larger ships to Port Canaveral, and those upgrades are necessary to accommodate the larger ship and handle the larger number of passengers that will come along with them.

The article rightly says that the port realizes a lot of revenue from the cruise lines, and that the cruise lines pump a lot of money into the surrounding community both directly and indirectly through other businesses making money from all the tourists who come along with the ships. The article implies, however, that the port had better negotiate wisely and give concessions to the cruise lines to keep the cruise lines there for its own economic good and the good of the area's economy.

On the other hand, we see foresee another article coming in a couple of years about how the port is undercharging the cruise lines based on what other ports make from cruise operations, and back in 2007 the port management gave the cruise lines a long-term sweetheart deal. Sometimes you just can't win.