Cruise Ship Mega Project Is a Mistake

Royal Caribbean’s mega cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas. (Royal Caribbean photo)

Dear Source:

Do we the residents of St. Thomas want to live in a bus stop?

That is what we are doing to ourselves with the over emphasis on this long broken, cruise ship tourism model. The time when cruise ships brought a few affluent passengers who stayed for days and spent their money on the island is long past. Now the cruise ship industry very efficiently manages to keep the revenue generated from their operations for themselves while inundating the island with tens of thousands for a blitz lasting only hours.

Today’s cruise ship arrivals are slam-bam-thank-you visits to a destination inadequately prepared to handle the traffic we already have. It is hit, dump and run. Cruise ship operators assure their passengers that their on-board duty-free stores are better. All-inclusive packages lure the passengers back to the ship for lunch. The ship provides the entertainment. No overnight stays in our hotels. No one is here long enough to get a feeling for what is wonderful about our home. Their experience often begins with the views of “Scenic Sub Base,” then off to the Main Street construction site. Why are we being asked to pay for this new “Mega” project when we are doing such a poor job with what we already have?

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Our government has proposed to build an amphitheater to compete with those on the largest cruise ships! At a time when Broadway talent has migrated to the cruise ships, our government thinks they are ready [to] gamble our tax dollars on their ability to compete with the best in the world? You can already see how competitive we are by visiting Crown Bay Center.

People that do bring money to the island are those who stay overnight. They patronize our hotels, villas, bars, restaurants and stores of every variety. Those who come on yachts freely spend incredible sums in all of these categories plus many others. Visiting yachts will be largely displaced by this project. Their presence costs us nothing. They are a gift from our wonderful harbor — a harbor destined to be destroyed by this mega mistake.

I suggest that the real cost of this project be put to our voters in a referendum. Our Government’s public debt plus the pension fund liability is $60,000 for every man woman and child on the island; a debt load that wildly exceeds that of our bankrupted neighbor Puerto Rico. As heads of households, what is our share of that debt? We know that borrowed money is not free.

Why do we continue to allow our government to float bonds for huge projects with explosive price tags when Government retirees, tax refunds, pot holes, garbage collection and the Government’s WAPA bill wait? Meanwhile, FAA housing destroyed by Hugo (1988) and school lunch buildings destroyed by Marilyn (1995) greet cruise ship visitors like cherished relics. Curb appeal?

Warren Stryker

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I agree 100% that this project is the wrong move for St.Thomas. I guess the reason for plans to tear down the elderly home would be to create a parking lot for the hundreds of taxi drivers. Maybe we can do tours of the sewage lift station on the corner next to the Rising Stars pan yard and will we be kicking the children out of there since we are already plan on doing it to our elderly? If they do complete the project and we have seven ships with an estimated 56 thousand passengers and crew doubling the population of St.Thomas and St.John combined on what roads do you plan to take them on maybe the St.Peter mountain road which is down to one lane and falling down the hillside. The scenic outlooks are not much better with the one on Subbase hill blocked with boulders forcing taxi drivers to block the street while conducting a tour or the one on top of Black Point hill riddled with pot holes. The traffic light and traffic enforcement situation is a joke. The traffic light fixtures can easily be fabricated on island much stronger than the “back ordered” one we have been waiting on for a year and a half. The marine tour operators who service the cruise ships were moved from their original mooring spots to accommodate the waterfront road project and will be moved again to accommodate the Long Bay Landing project besides them other boaters will be affected by this further shrinking our boater unfriendly harbor. Why would we bring more tourist to an island where we think it is okay for the first thing we see when we leave the airport is a mini dump, just past Lindbergh Bay leaving our airport at one time was a place runners, walkers and bicyclists would park their cars and a bit of exercising now it’s piles of dirt with old tires and other large pieces of trash mixed together. What if instead of building a new dock we work with the cruise industry to request more ships on slower days like thursday friday saturday and sunday. What about our actual tourist who stay here for more than a few hours in a day? Will to many cruise passengers anger our hotel and villa guest besides the residents. Will we become so overcrowded tourist will seek other islands since we all offer much of the same product? How much of an impact will this many people have on our already full landfill? Will the bow thruster of the cruise ship damage the roadway presently being built since the water will be trapped between the sea wall and the pier? I was born on St.Thomas and during my 50 of seeing many changes on all 4 islands it is my opinion that building this pier will do more damage to St.Thomas than hurricane Irma and Maria ever did.

  2. In addition to Warren Stryker’s excellent points, what the heck are we doing continuing to pander to an environmentally disastrous industry? It amazes me how blinkered the legislators are in sticking with ‘sausage factory cruise ship tourism’ where hardly any money is spent on island, instead of moving promptly ahead with opening up the islands to the incredibly profitable, environmentally sound industry of cannabis farming. We are being left behind. Look at how Puerto Rico is moving ahead. Wake up Legislators!

  3. I remember 30 years ago when I lived and worked there it was already over crowded on some cruise ship days I can’t imagine this scenario you all have pictured. When I visit I want to stay in a hotel and spend time seeing the beauty of the island. Not over crowded streets and town.

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