Cruise concerns to be ‘weighed against’ benefits

| 22/06/2015 | 56 Comments
Cayman News Service

Proposed cruise dock for Grand Cayman

(CNS): The premier has said the government is aware of the issues raised in the environmental impact assessment on the cruise berthing facilities “so the viability and economic benefits of cruise berthing must be understood and carefully weighed against those concerns” before government makes a decision. Despite indications that the project would cause massive damage to the marine environment in and around George Town, Alden McLaughlin gave no indication Friday that the government is backing off.

Delivering a statement regarding the government’s mid-term report to the Legislative Assembly after the House passed government’s 2015/16 budget bill, the premier simply said that the “Financial Transaction Model” had been approved by Cabinet — though no details were outlined — and the government was still in discussions with cruise lines.

Pointing to the public consultation now underway about the EIA, which has revealed massive reef destruction and significant damage to marine life, as well as major disruption to the capital’s day to day business, tourism and cargo operations, he acknowledged the problems. But the premier did not say that the devastation was not too high a price to pay and instead bragged that his government had at least made the findings public.

“I acknowledge that the environmental assessment has identified several issues, so the viability and economic benefits of cruise berthing must be understood and carefully weighed against those concerns,” he said. “However, I must point out that, unlike the cruise berthing plans under the UDP, this government committed — and has delivered on its promise — to ensure that a proper assessment of the environment working diligently on cruise berthing facilities.”

Meanwhile, the private sector body that represents the tourism sector has issued a statement encouraging its members to take part in the EIA consultation period, though it too did not say whether or not it is happy to support the marine devastation the piers will cause. The Cayman Islands tourism Association represents businesses involved in both the cruise and tourism sector, as well as George Town retailers and watersports operators, many of which are finding themselves on different sides of the issue.

Appearing reluctant to commit one way or the other, it said, “CITA’s Board Directors are reaching out to their sector members to obtain and collate their feedback on the Environmental Statement, the presentation, and the cruise berthing facility proposal in general. CITA leadership has been and will continue to be in very candid and robust dialogue with the deputy premier and ministry of tourism on this subject, and CITA very much appreciates the consistent forthrightness and accessibility that the deputy premier has displayed in our discussions, and ongoing relationships.”

The association did not state, however, on what side of the issue it was being “candid and robust” about.

The Chamber of Commerce is also reviewing the “advantages and disadvantages” of the project as outlined in the EIA and consulting with stakeholders, and will release a statement before the end of the public consultation on 3 July.

Last week Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, a staunch supporter of the project for many years, surprised Finance Committee and the listening public when he said he could not support this project based on the findings of the EIA.

Meanwhile, as the public consultation continues, a petition to stop the project has now reached about 1,500 signatures and there is talk of a people-initiated referendum petition to force government to put the project to a national vote.

See consultation documents and questionnaire here 

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (56)

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  1. David Miller says:

    Dear all dive shops ,tell us how many divers you take to GT reefs per day, per week, off season, in season? How many divers come here per year? How many boats ? How many divemasters? How much money do they make per week?
    How many Caymanians are Divemasters? How many Dive Instructors? How many family members are here residing with Dive staff ?
    Last time I saw Peter going out he is only using a small inflatable boat? How many customers is he carrying now? 6-10? More or less when he had Caymanians working for him? Does he or the rest only dive in GT? Can any Dive company dive Balboa when cruise ships are in?
    Can Turtle farm , Botanical or Pedro St James survive without cruise ship volume? No . Only bars and rest. in 7 mile beach need hotel guests. Prices in bars and rest are too high.
    Can Dolphin Cove or Discovery survive with only Hotel and condo guests ? No . What about Stingray City? 60 boats owned by Caymanians cannot survive without ships. 400 -600 tour busses and taxis cannot survive without Cruise ships. 50-60 stores, Bars, Rest cannot survive without Cruise ship.
    I’m sorry that the reefs are dying throughout the world and that we have climate change . But it is a fact that there are less Divers coming to see nothing. The wall off of GT has an anchor dropped everyday a ship comes to GT. There are less fish, lobster and conch, thats why Gina has asked for more laws to protect everywhere in the Cayman Islands including Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. But you can still dive everywhere else in Cayman ( 22 miles of North wall, 5 miles of East End, 22 miles of South side, and 6 miles of west side). We just need 15 acres

  2. Oyah Eh says:

    If we build it big enough we could drop an Ice Palace right on it.

  3. A Tourist says:

    As an older tourist (and there are lots of us) I prefer the tenders. The long walk on most piers is very tiring. Stepping on a tender and stepping off on shore is much better. Oh, and I like the ride!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why is it so hard to get real answers? Nobody really knows if we’l have crime surging without piers….equally, nobody really knows if the economy will hit staggering heights of great fortune for the entire nation if we do build a pier…..nobody knows anything …everyone seems to be suggesting, thinking, scaremongering for sure!!

    can we please just have the truth –

    have the cruise lines insisted on the piers being built? if so, please show us this in writing..and along with this, also show us their guaranteed ship visits to the islands over many decades to come once we build them a pier or 2.

    how is the development to be financed? and equally, how is it to be repaid! show us the commitments from whomever is paying, and the requirements from them (with the penalties if any explained…)

    the environment…of course it’ll be damaged, but the recent report didnt exactly bring about the doomsday result many of us feared…..and in all fairness, how is it really all that bad if we lose a few dive sites? forgive me, but i don’t believe the shipwrecks were always there..(they once floated)…and surely it creates huge opportunity to create brand new dive locations around the entire island?

    we cannot have our cake and eat it….there is a justifiable case for and against a cruise port…..but how can we make the right decision for our country if we dont have full transparency…..right now, its just downtown merchants crying out for a port….environmentalists desperate to initiate a peoples referendum….and government pretending they are not conflicted!

    this should be a movie

  5. Garfield says:

    Perhaps you could provide all of us with the source for this figure as well as a breakdown of the amount? That is one hell of a lot of Tshirts, baseball caps, beers, burgers, taxi rides and excursions to Stingray City.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You know what we should do? We should commission an environmental agency of sorts to write a report. Then we should sit around stroking our chins for a while.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Who will pay for the debt created by this project in the event that the cruise ships stop at Cuba in the future instead of Cayman?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see the benefit of the sideswalks being filled with more obese Americans spending a tiny amount on pirate crap and cheap jewellery in businesses owned by a few capital rich families.

    • Anonymous says:

      2011/2012 total economic contribution of cruise tourism was equal to $157.7 million dollars. I’m not sure you can consider that a tiny amount.

      • Sellmo Rolex says:

        Interesting. How does that compare to the stayover tourism numbers?

      • Anonymous says:

        That figure is unaudited and unverifiable and you know it.

        What was the cost to the Cayman Islands of lost stay over tourism due to the presence of cruise ships? Nobody knows because for very sound political reasons it’s never been assessed but what I can tell you is that I remember Grand Cayman before the cruise lines messed it up and it was a much better place.

      • Anonymous says:

        Says information compiled by those with a vested interest.

      • Buffao Bill says:

        $157,700,000 ? Who got it? I didn’t get any of it.

      • WaYaSay says:

        Anon 9:36am, I assume your allegiance is either to the Cruise Ship Companies, the Stingray City tours, the Dolphinariums, the duty free jewelery stores or the duty free liquor stores………just by the way you spit out that $157.7 million dollars number.
        I am not even going to argue the accuracy of that figure with you or how you derived…….I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that it is actually true and accurate, and it did not come from the Compass.

        Now let me put that number in perspective for you, so that you will understand why the cruise dock idea is a bunch of crap!

        Grand Cayman had 1,609,555 cruise ship passengers last year (2014)………….do the damn maths……..that represents $97.98 per visitor TOTAL spend for their stay in Cayman …………not ever ONE night hotel charge…………just so they can go back home and brag that they have already been to the “Caymans” so they do not need to return…..ever.

        You have spit out that impressive $157.7 million dollar number, as if to say, we had better build that $300,000,000.00 cruise ship dock. Well here is a newsflash for you, Alden, Moses, the Chamber of Commerce, the CITA…….and most importantly, the Caymanian taxpayers (me) whose money is on the line.
        To get the first cruise ship passenger to set foot on that beautiful dock……..we have to pay $186.38 for him and every other one that sets foot on that dock…………just so that him and and the other 1,609,554 can walk out onto Harbor Drive, in front of my moving car, instead of the crosswalk, to get that sweet deal on a $100.00 piece of cheap ass jewelery?

        Really? you want me to pay $186.38, just so that “important” cruise ship passenger can spend $97.98 with my personal Caymanian friends Jerry or Robbie???? I don’t think so Moses!!! Alden, just say NO now, stop wasting MY money on dumb ass studies!

        What I do know is……..not a cent of that $97.98 will ever make it into my pocket!!!!! no way, no how!!!!!!! I don’t work or own any business in that industry!

        And I have not even spoken about the wear ant tare to the rest of the infrastructure that I and all Caymanians have already paid for………I will let my other buddy, Peter Milburn, educate you, and me, about the cost to the reefs.

        Now idiot….WaYaSay.

        • Anonymous says:

          Since you don’t work for any company in the cruise industry it’s really easy to make and ignorant statement like that. That would be like me saying that since I don’t work for a finance company that we should write of the finance industry as its no good to us.
          Do you work for a restaurant, cuc, lime, dig cel, gas company, hotel, supermarket, bar, etc that those that do work in this industry use every day? Do you think that somehow the cruise ships magically convince all those in the cruise industry to just give back every dollar that is spent?
          I you believe that then you might as well believe in unicorns and fairy dust because they all make just as much sense.

          • WaYaSay says:

            Nope….I don’t work for any of those companies, I am retired. Worked my ass off for 49 years.
            Why do you not argue the figures and show me where I am wrong?……..then I may reconsider putting my children in hock to satisfy your greed!

        • Anonymous says:

          Trying to understand your maths logic. You say that it would cost $186.38 to bring each cruise tourist here but that is calculated at a cost of $300m divided by the number of cruise passengers for 1 year. If the life of the dock was a minimum of 20 years then it would be $9 per guest per visit!! Surely this is a better way of looking at it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Check you is for this reason that the PPM are making the cruise lines pay for the port.

  9. Anonymous says:

    i forsee many more consultants reports ahead….. ppm commit to nothing before the next election….

  10. Anonymous says:

    There is no money to pretend to weigh anything. What a joke.

    • Anonymous says:

      Previously submitted by anonymous applies to this.

      What a difference an environmental impact study makes, which is overshadowed by the lust for money. interesting times indeed.

      Well with all the possible damage portrayed in the study, does the CIG really want to risk its legacy by being named as the ones who created the demise of the environment of the capital?.

      It is time to think outside the box, frankly, what every cruise ship line wants is not necessarily good for the country and we should be looking carefully at how we can enhance the experience to a different level which is not to our detriment by finding solutions that are palatable and that do not create a financial burden on generations to come. Why not think about moving the cargo dock facility out of George Town? Is there a possibility for this to happen somewhere on the eastern side of the Island where there would be less impact on dredging and where proper facilities could be created. A move of the cargo dock could certainly bring about a complete change and provide for an opportunity to create a better ambiance and facilities for the cruise customer. For example, sitting areas for the passengers about to board ship, bathroom facilities, tourist brochures area and staff to inquire on the experience and encourage return visit by air water fountains etc.

      What about improvement of tenders and enhancing of the landing area, has anyone focused on what can be done with this aspect. Hey and what about recruiting and training of customer service staff to attend to cruise passengers; greeting them on landing, bidding them good bye as they embark, providing directions to the buses and the taxis, offering assistance on the streets and on the dock area. What about pedestrianizing George Town and creating satellite parking around Mary street, school house road and rock hole with tram cars bussing workers in and out of the main town centre( allowing only service vehicles, police and other important personnel access) oh wait and a place for live entertainement for our guests and certainly areas where our local populace can come and enjoy their week end in George Town.

      I’m sure that there are enough creative souls and minds local and foreign architects and planners, business people and workers who could be put together to visualize and create a new town centre that provides a second to none cruise experience and a venue for locals on week ends. Why not think and create An experience within our means that focuses on the reality of making people feel comfortable when they come to our home, where the friendliness of cayman can create an ever lasting impact and which if carefully managed can add value to our thrust for air arrivals.

      Why not think smart, why not stop following the crowd and create something of worth for today and for future generations without the possible demise of the waterfront environment and creation of spiralling debt, why not think Cayman and not the rest of the world.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman is the only large port in the Caribbean without a dock. Tendering from a ship takes a minimum of 30 minutes in the morning and can take up to an hour when lots of people want to get off. It’s not a good way to go in the long run.

  11. Anonymous says:

    With the increased crime, corruption scandals, high prices (profits) and Cuba becoming an option for americans, maybe better forget about the cruise ships. This is the beginning of the end.

  12. Anonymous says:

    It is mid-way 2015 and how many assessments, reports, dicussions, meetings….still going over the same ole same ole. How many years does it take to discover the ‘cruise concerns to be ‘weighed against’ benefits’… Same with the dump….. ‘How long has this been going on…….’

  13. Anonymous says:

    The Proposed dredge area in Red Bay/south sound is more than 50 times the dredging needed in the current George Town proposal. This doesn’t even start to talk about the fact that if you make the Red Bay/South Sound dock you have to cut out 600 feet of the reef just to open it up for these ships. After that you have to cap and kill off thousands of feet of reef and coral to create the break water. People are worried about kicking up silt and sand in GT but South Sound current would sweep more silt all down through South Sound and kill off every living thing in the ocean from Red Bay all the way around South Sound Key. You ever tried to bring a boat near the key? Red Bay is way more environmental impact than any GT project proposed even the CHEC and DECCO proposals. If people were so upset about the little canal that was supposed to go into South Sound then lets kill off this garbage about Cruise and Cargo ships in the South Sound/Red Bay once and for all.

    • Anonymous says:

      The South Sound/Red Bay cruise & ship berth project was largely driven by the Sea Captains Ministry, without them really ever acknowledging the numbers at hand. To bring things in perspective , along with the mentioned +600 foot wide canal ( to allow safe transit of ships that far exceed 130 feet in beam ) was to dredge the South Sound basin to a depth able to accommodate ships with Azimuth drives. That depth would have to accommodate ships that draw 35 feet of depth , with the necessary margin below the hull, keel & drives to satisfy the requirements of the cruise line & operating captain/ pilot. So yes it is a correct statement that the entire idea was garbage to even enter discussion , given these figures alone. The Costa Concordia disaster should be clear as crystal in everyone’s memory . Any further talk of moving operations to South Sound is a waste of oxygen and peoples time.

    • kenny says:

      Finally some common sense. GT harbour is already half dead from years of cruise ships chains and anchors destroying the reef. Please go ahead and build these lovely piers. Stop listening to madness about destroying the north sound and red bay ….do we really think the cruise ships are going to allow there ships to get trapped inside a reef.

  14. Let me clarify my last note on here.I was putting the three things more or less in order but the DUMP and AIRPORT should be done asap and the dock should be the last .I am still awaiting written proof that the ships will not come unless there is a dock for them.Can we afford to risk the environment just for the sake of a few who will benefit from a dock?

    • Anonymous says:

      You spend half your time diving up old golf balls. How does that make you a political analyst?

      • Anonymous says:

        Digging up golf balls bars someone from being informed and having an opinion?

      • Chris Johnson says:

        At least he has the balls to give his name. More than u do. He also makes constructive remarks. I rather suspect that two more brain cells would place you in the tree category.

  15. Anonymous says:

    CNS, you might want to check this comment ‘the government was still in discussions with cruise lines’ with the cruise lines because I know for a fact that at least one of the major players is not involved in this and doesn’t intend to be.

    • Anonymous says:

      I totally agree. The FCCA is not CCL, RCL, NCL, nor Disney. The FCCA is a tiny conflicted consulting committee promising access to liner CEO’s and thriving on subscriptions from the businesses they shake down in the Caribbean at $25,000 a pop. Michele Paige helms from her stables and her son and their Ecuadorian staff run the hustle – and our bobos are willing to bet the future of our grandkids on their arbitrary determinations.

      • Anonymous says:

        There seems to be a complete misunderstanding that goes back years about the status of the FCCA as a negotiating body for the cruise industry. One of the problems CIG has is that they can’t gets their heads around the idea that the FCCA has no real say in how the cruise lines operate.Talking to them doesn’t guarantee anything because at the end of the day the people who actually control the money are still the cruise lines. If CIG are currently only talking to the FCCA then they are not talking to the ‘cruise lines’ themselves and that distinction needs to made much clearer. In fact I think we need to be given far more details of what is going here, specifically exactly who is doing the talking and about what. Why is this all being done in secret?

  16. Anonymous says:

    The port benefits a few retail merchants but it is not a priority.

    Cayman cannot afford this expense mistake which will decimate the marine environment. That is one big reason why tourists come to the islands. Why destroy the thing that drives your tourism product? Move the dock to Spotts or Red Bay

  17. Big Bertha says:

    The cruise facility should be at Spotts. There is no other practical location, in terms of proximity to town and other attractions, open water access and year round shelter.

    Hog Sty Bay and Red Bay present too many economic and environmental challenges for them to be feasible.

    National policy cannot be dictated by and implemented exclusively for the benefit of one or two merchant jewellers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Only someone who doesn’t live at Spotts could possibly say this. The weather is way to rough during 50% of the year with the SE winds to ever consider Spotts. The only time Spotts is calm is when you have north westers or the wind is straight out of the north. This is a very silly suggestion, possibly only slightly sillier than the Red Bay Dock Idea.

    • Anonymous says:

      The wind and seas are predominantly out of the south east for half of the year making the sea’s too rough on the South side of the island. GT Harbor is the most sheltered location on the island which is why the existing cargo dock was built there in the first place.

      Please come back when you have a sensible idea.

    • Anonymous says:

      Spott’s Dock location is not a year round berth ,it does not offer year-round shelter.The past week there has been a 2 meter , 9 to 10 second interval swell-period from the south / south east. A swell of this period acting on the displacement of a 100,000 ton cruise ship would destroy the dock attachments the ship is tied to , cause the ship to strike the dock damaging it & potentially the ship.

      Go to Spotts dock this coming weekend,during the next large period swell interval to witness first hand how much water moves in such a swell , albeit as small as just 2 meters.

  18. Anonymous says:

    After listening to Rooster this morning I realize that the floating dock is not feasible and that the cost of the floating docks would be many times greater than the fixed dock. Choppy could not give any cost associated with this. It also sounds like you could need more piles to fasten the floating dock to the seabed and hence more drilling than a fixed dock. I heard that a floating dock 1/5 the size of what they are proposing was built in Monacco and it cost $150 Million. Multiply that by 5 times and you figure out really quickly that we can’t afford the floating dock.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The taxi operators complain as they are squeezed out. The tour operators complain as the cruise ship owners take most of the package revenue, the duty free shops complain as the cruise sheep only waste their time and never buy anything, so who exactly is making all this money. As the old saying goes they come for the 3 P’s – a pepsi, a postcard and a pee.
    For the sake of selling a few more of our outrageously priced rum cakes, it’s a no brainer – save our reefs, our port, our environment and give up this crazy idea.

    • Rp says:

      They are not even spending money on food!

      Bartender at Breezes in a casual convo last year:

      “I cannot believe how many cruise couples walk in a split a burger and a soda, 15 dollar bill, this wasn’t happening before. I don’t know how long the owners will keep this joint open like this”

      How many restaurants have closed or changed ownership downtown since 2008? That was when the cruise ships started targeting the less affluent people of the society to fill their boats with $400 per week all inclusive deals.

      But I am sure our gov has included those facts in their cost to benefit analysis.

  20. Dump Airport Dock(if at all)Our stay over visitors are what put us where we are today BUT we still need cruise visitors but at what cost to our environment.Show me proof that they will not come if no dock is put in place.The new mega ships probably could not get in here anyway regardless of a dock or otherwise and they are happy making money with their own onboard activities.Most of the money spent for onshore trips etc.remains in the hands of the ships from what I have been told.As much as $70-$80 out of every $100 spent and as for the gambling that’s a no brainy re intake for ships.

  21. Anonymous says:

    It would be a shame to go forward with this and have the worst case scenario take place. It would be the death of tourism.

  22. Garfield says:

    The dump problem should be the number 1 focus of the CIG as the dump is a time bomb waiting to explode. Why can the CIG not focus on the dump problem and find financing to solve the dump problem rather than spending so much time on port development? Can both be financed at the same time? I have my doubts.

    The dump problem is now but the port can wait. First things first.

    • Anonymous says:

      Everybody please note….the Port project is not going to be paid for by CIG…the cruise lines are going to pay for it.
      Mac’s plan would have been an expensive disaster because we were going to pay for the port …and more….

      • Anonymous says:

        The cruise lines are not going to pay for this, in fact they have expressed absolutely no interest in building the dock or any requirement to alter the present tendering arrangement.

        If they are going to get involved here they will have to be offered the same kind of deal that built places like Labadee and Amber Cove.

        • Rp says:

          And if they will, their contractual terms will certainly be heavily in their favor to the point that we would not accept their offers.

          If you are one of those who think Dart is taking over our island and gives peanuts to our community…wait til you see what these cruiselines will demand in return for building the docks.

          Dart is a hero compared to Carnival and the like. These cruiselines will suck us dry. They already do as they suck most of the profits from tours etc. Just wait until they put money in to build docks. Might as well rename Georgetown Carnivaltown.

      • If the cruise ships pay for the dock we could be in serious trouble as we will have NO say it how it is run, controlled and which ships can use the dock.Heaven help us if they put more ships to the north just to satisfy the greed that exists now.

      • Garfield says:

        Please site your source that the cruise lines are going to pay for the port? I am sorry, but you are severely misinformed. We the good residents of Cayman will pick up the full tab to subsidise a handful of George Town merchants if the port goes ahead.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the dock doesn’t go through and george town collapses putting thousands of people who are mainly Caymanian including all the taxi drivers, bus tour operators, watersports and stingray city tours, the dump will be the least of our worries. You think crime got bad when things just slowed down this is a whole different world of hurt. Everybody seems to think it’s just the store owners in town that survive off of cruises. My family has been working stingray city for years and that’s how I feed my children. It has been tough the last couple years. Crime starts jumping up because people don’t have work and you won’t need to worry about filling those new fancy hotels either.

      • says:

        The town, nor nothing els is going to collapse without the piers bobo, just think of it have you seen a direct quote from the Cruise ship companies that say if you build it they will come. NO, you haven’t and no you won’t. WHY?, because the new mega ships already are booked for destinations where the cruise ships have made a big investment and therefore why send these ships to where they can’t make any money. They love to control shops, bars, perfume shops etc where they invest in piers they also invest in control. Do your research before you talk nonsense about collapse.

      • Rp says:

        How is GT going to collapse if we don’t put the piers in?

        Who did the analysis to see how many cruise passengers we would have with and without the piers? Seriously. Can someone post a link to the research or are these statements assumptions based on what are politicians are telling us from their discussions with the industry?

        We seem to be experiencing an increase in port calls without the piers! To figure out if we need the docks we need to answer other questions first:

        What is the max number of tourists we want on our island disembarking daily in 15 years?
        How many are projected to arrive in 15 years if we build piers?
        How does that compare to the optimal number we plan for?
        How many tourists are projected in 15 years if we don’t build?
        Is that more or less than the optimal?
        What options do we have to get to the optimal amount aside from building? Ie. Advertising, beautification of GT? If none other than piers, then is the cost of building and maintenance justifying the additional revenue we would get from the incremental tourists we would receive now that we built the docs?

        Let’s see the business case analysis please before we conclude that we are doomed if we don’t build.

        Oh, one more thing – do we have guarantees from cruise lines that they will maintain a minimum number of tourists per year for the next x years before we invest?

        CIG please don’t let thins project be another burden on us In perpetuity like the Turtle Farm!

      • SSM345 says:

        So you are saying build a dock that destroys our GT marine environment in the hope that these ships will come here, using our money to fund it? And when the ships don’t come, because they are completely silent on the matter if you hadn’t noticed, and our dive industry collapses because we proceeded with this monstrosity, what do you suggest happens then?

    • Anonymous says:

      the ppm turned down a free solution ot the dump…..just to please the ‘bright mind’ voters from bodden town….zzzzzzzzzzzz

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