Cruise ship tourism has become one of the fastest growing segments of the global tourism industry and is a central facet of the industry in various regions. This is particularly the case in the Caribbean where at any given time as many as 70 cruise ships may be operating. This article utilizes a global commodity chains (GCC) approach to investigate the political economy of the cruise ship industry and consider the development consequences for the Caribbean. It shows that a small number of global cruise lines use a combination of producer-driven and buyer-driven strategies to maximize on-board revenues and capture a very high proportion of economic surplus. The implications for developing country destinations are disturbingly clear.