The Caribbean Cruise Ship Business and the Emergence of a Transnational Capitalist Class
Keywords:Caribbean, Tourism, Cruise Ships, Global Capitalism, Transnational Capitalist Class
This paper will provide an overview of the fundamental changes that the cruise ship business has undergone with the emergence of capitalist globalization and in the context of the Caribbean region. Rising profits and investments in tourism during the later decades of the 20th century and into the 21st century have been an important part of the globalizing economy. This has been a consequence of both the major technological and organizational developments of global capitalism, but also, and most importantly, of the global system’s changing social and class relations. The shifting social relations and productive activities that undergird the cruise ship business have meant gains for some involved, most especially, transnational capitalists, and exploitative and contradictory dynamics for many others. Annually millions of tourists from high consuming sectors worldwide partake in brief holiday escapes aboard cruise ship vessels. At the same time, the cruise ship business has become an oligopoly, controlled by a handful of large companies, that has driven many competitors out of business or acquiried them. Labor in the business has become more flexibilized, with low-wage workers (from a variety of nationalities) whose activities are increasingly standardized, monitored and micro-managed. While moving away from indicative development planning (with an eye to national goals), state policymakers in the Caribbean, for their own social reproduction, increasingly promote the interests of transnational capital such as with the cruise ship business. Importantly, labor and environmental protections have been stymied as the cruise ship companies, adept at public relations and skirting regulations, remain largely unaccountable.
Accessdr. (2012a). New Dominican president will encourage more investment in Tourism industry. Retrieved from http://www.accessdr.com/2012/08/new-dominican-president-will-encourage-more-investment-in-tourism-industry/
Accessdr. (2012b). 430,000 cruise ship tourists visit the Dominican Republic.
Retrieved from http://www.accessdr.com/2012/04/430000-cruise-ship-tourists-visit-the-dominican-republic/
Booth, R. (2010). Cruise ships still find a Haitian berth. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jan/17/cruise-ships-haiti-earthquake
Boyce, H. (2003). Cruise liners seeking to divide and rule the
Caribbean. Nassau Guardian, 23 October.
Britell, A. (2013). Interview with Micky Arison, Chairman of Carnival Corporation. Caribbean Journal. Retrieved from http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/12/17/interview-with-micky-arison-chairman-of-carnival-corporation/
Castillo-Mussot, M. del, Sprague, J., & and Lama García, A. de la. 2013. Global capitalism and “north-south” unevenness: In light of ranking, statistical correlations, and profits of Forbes world list of top 2000 firms. Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, 12: 219-245.
Chase, G. (2002). The economic impact of cruise ships in the 1990s: Some evidence from the Caribbean. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Kent, OH, USA: Kent State University Graduate School of Management.
Cruise Compete. 2013a. “Jacmel.” Retrieved March 19, 2014 (http://www.cruisecompete.com/vacations/visits/jacmel/1).
Cruise Compete. 2013b. “SeaDream I.” Retrieved March 19, 2014 (http://www.cruisecompete.com/ships/seadream_i_cruises.html).
Daye, M. (2011). New perspectives in Caribbean tourism. Oxford, UK: Routledge.
Dicken, Peter. (2007). Global Shift: Mapping the Changing Contours of the World
Economy. The Guilford Press.
Dowling, R. K. (2006). Cruise ship tourism. Boston, MA: CABI.
Farmer, Paul. 2006. AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography
of Blame. Berkeley, CA, USA: University of California Press.
Forbes. (2009). The 400 richest Americans: #56 Micky Arison. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/54/rich-list-09_Micky-Arison_OAU8.html
Forbes. (2013). Micky Arison net worth $5.9 B as of September 2013. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/profile/micky-arison/
Friends of the Earth. (2014) 2014 Cruise Ship Report Card. Retrieved from http://www.foe.org/cruise-report-card
Garin, K. A. (2006). Devils in the blue sea: The dreams, schemes and showdowns that built America’s cruise-ship empires. NY, New York: Penguin Group.
Gmelch, G. (2003). Behind the Smile: The working lives of Caribbean Tourism. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
Haiti News. 2013. “The cruise ship ‘Adriana’ will no more dock for the carnival.”
Haiti News 509. Retrieved March 20, 2014 (http://www.haitinews509.net/en/2013/01/haiti-tourism-the-cruise-ship-adriana-will-no-more-dock-for-the-carnival/#sthash.zTS88ihW.dpbs).
Harris, J. (2008). The dialectics of globalization: Economic and political conflict in a transnational world. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Heilman, W. (2012). Carnival moving Springs call center workers to homes. The Gazette. Retrieved from http://gazette.com/article/138073/
Hogue, John S. 2013. Cruise Ship Diplomacy: Making U.S. leisure and power in the
Anglophone Caribbean, 1900-1973. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest LLC.
Hoogvelt, A. (2001). Globalization and the postcolonial world: The new political economy of development. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.
Inspiration Cruises. 2012. “Cruise with a cause.” Retrieved March 24, 2014
ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation). (2006). What are flags of convenience? itfglobal.org. Retrieved from http://www.itfglobal.org/flags-convenience/sub-page.cfm
Klein, R. (2001/2002) “High seas, low pay: working on cruise ships,” Our Times: Canada’s Independent Labour Magazine. Available online at: http://www.cruisejunkie.com/ot.html
Klein, R. (2005). Cruise ship squeeze: The new pirates of the seven seas. Gabriola, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers.
Klein, R. (2009). Environmental impacts of cruise tourism. Prows edge cruise magazine and guide to cruising. Retrieved from http://www.prowsedge.com/views-ross-klein.html
Kuehmayer, J.R. (2013). Cruise ship owners/operators and passenger ship financing & management companies. Austrian Marine Equipment Manufacturers. Retrieved from http://www.amem.at/pdf/AMEM_Cruise-Ship-Owners-And-Operators.pdf
Liechty, M. (2003). Suitably modern: Making middle-class culture in a new consumer society. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Liodakis, G. (2013). Totalitarian capitalism and beyond. London, UK: Ashgate.
Lumsdon, L. M., & Page, S. J. (Eds.). (2003). Tourism and transport: Advances in tourism research. NY, NY: Routledge.
Luxner, L. (2013). Dominican Republic leads Caribbean in tourist arrivals.
Retrieved from http://newsismybusiness.com/dominican-republic- leads-caribbean-in-tourist-arrivals/
Mason, P. (2010). Live working or die fighting: How the working class went global.
Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books.
Marx, K. (1992). Capital: Volume I: A critique of political economy. London,
UK: Penguin Books.
McNeil, L. (2013). Royal Caribbean to move its call centre to Guatemala. TravelMole. Retrieved from http://www.travelmole.com/news_feature.php?news_id=2008068
Molyneaux, D. G. (2012). Cruise lines: Developing destinations. Miami Herald. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/20/3057708/developing-destinations.html
Mowforth, M. & Munt, I. (2008). Tourism and sustainability: Development, globalisation and new tourism in the Third World. London, UK: Routledge.
Murray, Georgina and John Scott, Eds. (2012) Financial Elite and Transnational
Business: Who Rules the World? Edward Elgar Publishers.
Oyogoa, Francisca (2016) “Cruise Ships: A Triumph of Global Capitalism and
Exemplar of Racialized Servility” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, Aug 20.
Pattullo, Poly (2005), Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean (New York,
USA: Monthly Review Press)
Rohde, D. (2012). The swelling middle. Reuters. Retrieved from
Robinson, W. I. (2003). Transnational conflicts: Central America, social change, and globalization. London, UK: Verso.
Robinson, W. I. (2004). A theory of global capitalism: Production, class, and state in a transnational world. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.
Robinson, W. I. (2014). Global capitalism and the crisis of humanity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rodrigue, J.-P. (2013). The geography of transport systems. NY, New York: Routledge.
Royal Caribbean. (2009). Oasis of the Seas. Retrieved from
Royal Caribbean. (2013). Royal Caribbean to base Explorer of the Seas out of Port Canaveral. Retrieved from http://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2013/05/24/royal-caribbean-base-explorer-seas-out-port-canaveral
Sheller, Mimi. (2003) Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies. London,
Sklair, L. (2001). Globalization: Capitalism and its alternatives. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Sklair, L. (2012). “Culture-Ideology of consumerism.” In George Ritzer (ed.), The
Wilely-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization. Malden, MA, USA and Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd).
Sprague, J. (2012). Transnational state. In G. Ritzer (Ed.), The Wilely-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization (pp. 2031-2037). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Sprague, J. (2015). Globalization and Transnational Capitalism in Asia and Oceania. London, UK: Routledge.
Struna, J. (2009). Toward a theory of global proletarian fractions. Perspectives on
Global Development and Technology, 8: 230-260.
Theobald, W. F. (2004). Global tourism. NY, New York: Routledge
Tortello, R. (2006). Somewhere beyond the sea: Jamaica’s role in the history of the cruise line industry. Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/history/story0076.html
Trade Winds. (2014) Carnival synergies hunt could extend to newbuildings. Retreved from http://www.tradewindsnews.com/weekly/333994/carnival-synergies-hunt-could-extend-to-newbuildings
Travel Weekly. (2003). Carnival, P&O Princess tackle synergies. Retrieved from http://www.travelweekly.com/Cruise-Travel/Carnival-P-O-Princess-tackle-synergies
Uebersax, M. B. (1996). Indecent proposal: Cruise ship pollution in the Caribbean. Planeta.com, Retrieved from http://www.planeta.com/planeta/96/0896cruise.html
UNWTO. (2011). Tourism towards 2030 global overview. United Nations world tourism organization. Retrieved from http://www.e-unwto.org/content/w45127/?p=189899a5998f428f99f66ca0e17d2218
UNWTO. (2012). International tourism hits one billion. United Nations World Tourism Organization. Retrieved from http://media.unwto.org/press-release/2012-12-12/international-tourism-hits-one-billion
Walker, Jim. (2010). Reason No. 9 Not To Cruise: Bunker Fuel-Nasty Tar Sludge! Retrieved from http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2010/05/articles/pollution-1/reason-no-9-not-to-cruise-bunker-fuel-nasty-tar-sludge/
Wallerstein, I. (2004) World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. Duke University Press.
War on Want and ITF. (2002). Sweatships. Retrieved from
Watson, Hilbourne (2015) Globalization, Sovereignty and Citizenship in the Caribbean.
Mona, Jamaica: The University of the West Indies Press.
Weaver, D. (2001). Mass tourism and alternative tourism in the Caribbean. In David Harrison (Ed.), Wallingford, UK: Tourism and the less developed world. CABI.
Wonders, N.A. & Michalowski, R. (2001). Bodies, borders, and sex tourism in a globalized world: a tale of two cities-Amesterdam and Havana. Social Problems, 48: 4, pp. 545-571.
World Travel & Tourism Council. (2013). Economic impact 2012. Retrieved http://www.wttc.org/site_media/uploads/ downloads/world2012.pdf
How to Cite
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- The Author retains copyright in the Work, where the term “Work” shall include all digital objects that may result in subsequent electronic publication or distribution.
- Upon acceptance of the Work, the author shall grant to the Publisher the right of first publication of the Work.
- The Author shall grant to the Publisher and its agents the nonexclusive perpetual right and license to publish, archive, and make accessible the Work in whole or in part in all forms of media now or hereafter known under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License or its equivalent, which, for the avoidance of doubt, allows others to copy, distribute, and transmit the Work under the following conditions:
- Attribution—other users must attribute the Work in the manner specified by the author as indicated on the journal Web site;
- The Author is able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the nonexclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the Work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), as long as there is provided in the document an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post online a prepublication manuscript (but not the Publisher’s final formatted PDF version of the Work) in institutional repositories or on their Websites prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work. Any such posting made before acceptance and publication of the Work shall be updated upon publication to include a reference to the Publisher-assigned DOI (Digital Object Identifier) and a link to the online abstract for the final published Work in the Journal.
- Upon Publisher’s request, the Author agrees to furnish promptly to Publisher, at the Author’s own expense, written evidence of the permissions, licenses, and consents for use of third-party material included within the Work, except as determined by Publisher to be covered by the principles of Fair Use.
- The Author represents and warrants that:
- the Work is the Author’s original work;
- the Author has not transferred, and will not transfer, exclusive rights in the Work to any third party;
- the Work is not pending review or under consideration by another publisher;
- the Work has not previously been published;
- the Work contains no misrepresentation or infringement of the Work or property of other authors or third parties; and
- the Work contains no libel, invasion of privacy, or other unlawful matter.
- The Author agrees to indemnify and hold Publisher harmless from Author’s breach of the representations and warranties contained in Paragraph 6 above, as well as any claim or proceeding relating to Publisher’s use and publication of any content contained in the Work, including third-party content.
Revised 7/16/2018. Revision Description: Removed outdated link.