Cruise Ship Coolness Concern to Chile

Our colleague Phil Reimer, whose Ports and Bows columns and blogs are a must-read for cruisers, had an especially interesting commentary on his website yesterday. It was about gambling in international waters. Here’s what he had to say:

I was sailing along the coast off Chile about five years ago when all of sudden the casino closed. You must understand that I am not a very good blackjack player but I like to try and usually the cruise line is more than happy to take my money. But under Chile’s law, the casino had to shut down. Keep in mind when sailing along the coast that we are not in Chilean waters.

Tighten up the economy and see your cruise passenger numbers drop in half — could that be why the government is now considering a bill to allow coast casino operations on international ships?

Cruise lines cite high costs and the loss of casino revenues while in the waters off Chile’s long coastline as reasons for reducing their capacity up and down the west coast of South America, according to Waldo Caroca H., manager of the cruise ship agency.

“There is no good reason to keep the restriction when the vessel is sailing,” Economic Secretary Juan Andrés Fontaine told Santiago’s La Tercera newspaper. “We are very concerned about the matter because this affects our competitiveness as a touristic country.”

Juan, you have that right. The casino is not taking one nickel out of Chile’s economy. When cruisers in that part of the world hit port they’re not looking for a casino. They are in Chile to see the wonders of your country.

So open up the casinos and let me spend at least a little of the kids’ inheritance…or on a good day make a little for the inheritance pot.

Intrigued by Phil’s content, we did a little digging. It seems this law has been in effect since 2005, whereby cruise ships had to shut down their casinos when within 13.8 miles (why 13.8?) of the shore.

The reason for trying to repeal it is $$$$$. By next year, the number of cruise ships stopping in Chile will have dropped by 32% in two years. The number of passengers by 52%. The dollars in Chile’s bank account by $10 million, also more than 50%. For cruisers like us, who enjoyed this wonderful country enough to go back again…and again, this is sad.

The reason — compounded by excessive ports taxes — was of particular interest to us because we gambled off the coast of Chile two years ago…shhh, don’t tell anybody. As a matter of fact, we multiplied the pennies in our jeans at the casino, for a change. But we’re mystified why we got away with it and Phil didn’t.

Ah, of course. That’s it. Our ship must have been 13.9 miles from the coast. Can’t you tell by the picture?

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