Cruise talks will be ‘complex and sensitive’

| 22/07/2016 | 47 Comments
Cayman News Service

George Town Harbour

(CNS): Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell has said that he expects the negotiations with the cruise lines over financing the proposed George Town berthing facilitates will be “complex and sensitive”. Making the formal announcement that Dutch firm Royal HaskoningDHV had been awarded the civil engineering design works contract by the Central Tenders Committee, he said the costing of the project by the experts would inform the talks but the government was committed to seeing the cruise lines cover the costs while ownership of the piers remained in public hands.

In a release Thursday evening to formally announce the next step in the controversial and costly project, Kirkconnell, who is also the deputy premier, said the decisions being taken were to achieve the best possible outcomes while sticking to the outline business case.

“I am pleased with the steady progress being made, and while we anticipate the discussions with cruise lines will be complex and sensitive, we will continue to keep the public informed of developments,” he said.

Kirkconnell also said, “Following best practice takes time but provides the assurance that the decisions government is taking are based on sound principles, to achieve the best possible outcomes for the country. Once the civil engineering design works are completed and the detailed estimated cost to construct the piers is known, the ministry will be in a better position to negotiate the best possible financing model with cruise lines. Our goal is to arrive at a formula in partnership with cruise lines that will not only fund construction of the piers, but will ensure that they are owned by the people of the Cayman Islands.”

At a press briefing with the media Wednesday on the wider tourism product, the minister estimated that the new price tag for the re-designed port proposal would be around $200 million.

The latest contract follows work done by BAIRD to assess whether the original plans could be redesigned to reposition the docks and construct them in deeper water to reduce dredging and lessen the impact on the marine environment. Royal HaskoningDHV will now “determine the performance standards and specifications of construction”, officials explained.

This work is expected to give a more definitive cost for the whole proposed project and it is expected to be finished before the end of this year. Kirkconnell said that in the meantime the ministry will engage in “productive discussions with cruise lines in relation to their involvement” and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in what the minister described as a careful methodical process.

But at this stage it is still unclear what the cruise lines will want from the deal and how it will benefit the Cayman community as a whole, should the FCO give the government the green light. While a vocal minority of downtown merchants are fully supportive of the project, many tourism stakeholders and the broader public are still opposed to the product. The government’s own surveys came out three to one against the decision to develop a cruise berthing facility at all, with many more opposed to the current proposal.

Given the anticipated costs and the environmental damage it will cause, people are concerned about the project because of the anticipated destruction of coral reef even with the redesign. With news that Cayman continues to attract high-spending overnight guests and cruise calls are rising, many doubt government’s position that without piers Cayman’s cruise tourism industry will collapse.

The Department of Tourism’s exit surveys have indicated clearly how important the marine environment is to all visitors when compared to tours and shopping. Reducing the areas where guests can dive and snorkel, as well as posing untold risk to an already threatened marine environment, is too high a price to pay, many people believe.

With the perception that the piers are only going to benefit a limited number of downtown duty-free stores and tour operators, the proposed project remains controversial.

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Category: development, Local News, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (47)

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  1. Marathon says:

    Dump before Dock!

    So say I and, interestingly enough, so says my proctologist.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Cruise lines reap us however they can.
    eg. We know long time that they are taking cuts from prebooked shore trips, sending ashore working wedding photographers and emtertainers without permits, blacklisting business who are not working with them..even now bringing bicycles ashore for Free.
    we are the only port that allows this nonsence.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve looked through the 5000 job descriptions at immigration & cannot find one for emtertainers. Maybe they don’t need a permit

  3. Anonymous says:

    Build the dock because it can’t get any worse. When Cuba opens wide we here will be shut tight like a Clam. We had better make the right decision. May God help us to do the right thing.

  4. I pray that the prime directive given to both the design and the dredging firms will be “do no harm to Eden Rock/Devil’s Grotto, Soto’s reefs and the Cali shipwreck. Those areas currently earn us nearly $9M/yr in direct ticket sales for sea tours that many “cruisers” come here for. Where else can they walk to straight off the dock? Where else does the reef rise vertically from 30′ to 10′ in pond calm water? Nowhere else on this island! It’s a unique reef structure in the middle of the marine park housing literally millions of fish! The Cali and Eden Rock are arguably the best near shore snorkeling on the island. Even with careful, expensive mitigations those areas are in harm’s way of devastating siltation both during dredging and during operations of ship’s thrusters as they approach and leave the dock. The EIA says that Hog Stye Bay and the Cali will both have zero current flow, which means they can be seriously affected by silt throughout the life of the pier unless addressed in the design and construction. Do no harm should be the planning team’s mantra. I’m not against a dock, just against unnecessary destruction of our precious resources. Surely we can have it all if we plan to do no harm. I.E… The cable car plan was said to spare the reef, satisfy the ships’ needs and offer an attraction of its own for less than $170M. The designer seemed very confident in it, offering solid answers to every question that arose. I still have not heard why that was rejected without thorough consideration from Government. Will the new plan be so considerate? I await to see it with bated breath.

  5. Just a quick note re this latest development re the Dock.Just a word of CAUTION If we get the Cruise ships to pay for the dock we will be held hostage for many many years and they WILL dictate who gets to put in shops etc on or near the dock area.We need to bite the bullet re who pays for this and fully control the use of the dock when built.Can we afford to take this chance?Think long and hard before we make this huge decision and allow the dock to fall onto the wrong hands.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Is it just me, or in the photo, is that one filthy Welcome to Cayman sign to greet our arriving guests? Indicative as to how our great leaders are approaching the dump situation… lack of effort, lack of interest, and soon come procrastination.

    Now get one of the thousands of government lackeys that are enjoying easy money to sit around and do nothing all day, to get out there and clean that welcome sign for Pete’s sake.

    • anonymous says:

      Good point. Nobody likes visitors, only their money. I always compare it with Hawaii where you feel welcomed from the moment you board a plane.

    • Local says:

      Me and the unemployed caymanian painters been looking to paint the sign. We had to apply to paint the sign. The government job application form required a essay and other things. No word back from dem. Sign still dutty.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Convenient memory ,PPM campaigned that they would build the dock. Didn’t UDP say the same thing? Why didn’t they? They had three companies that could had done it. Was there interference ? Why would they interfere ? Wake up Cayman.
    The cruise line company will pay for it. I personally don’t care if they lease the property or own it. We can’t even ticket taxis and busses who illegally park all over the street . We have a system where there are 366 police officers and maybe 1- 2 police are out there. We could pay for the dock just giving tickets to people crossing the street illegally. After so many years they finally moved staff parking out of the dock and put proper chairs and tents on the property . The past employee was paid 25,000 CI per month? To do what? Couldn’t we get someone cheaper? The dock only held 2 ships. If the Cruise line would lease the facility ( I’m not saying it would) wouldn’t that take away some of the ridiculous cost? We could bring our cost to paying 2 immigration officers and customs officers and one band.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Seriously, can we at least have the sign cleaned and painted? It looks filthy.

  9. Anonymous says:

    ‘complex and sensitive’
    Just like the Brac

  10. ROFLOL says:

    So sad but KirkBots dictate PPM decisions by manipulating likes or dislikes votes on CNS

    • Beaumont says:

      You would NEVER do anything so underhanded as to manipulate likes or dislikes or resort to lowbrow political rhetoric or labels based upon your agenda, would you?

  11. Anonymous says:

    The false “majority” against is hilarious. The only numbers of people against are the international dive organizations and the eco/green “save the anything” campaigns that have never stepped foot on the island.
    Real Caymanian people want and need this dock.
    Our island needs this dock and our people have hurt and missed out from politics getting in the way before now.

    Congrats PPM for getting things done.

    • Anonymous says:

      You sure?

      • P. McLaughlin says:

        One thing I’m sure of! They have a lot of kirkbots, or they have a way to add false “Likes”. I wonder how much they pay their “supporters”. True Caymanians know it’s fake. We don’t want the dock!

    • Diogenes says:

      Real Caymanian people – and all the employees of the duty free shops (who by and large are not Caymanian, but know what their employer wants).

  12. Anonymous says:

    It is absolutely unfathomable how out of touch anyone is that criticizes the cruise importance to Cayman and our economy. The garbage being pitched that only a few benefit is insane. Thousands live and work here because of cruise and those people spend their money in every part of the island. If this dock doesn’t get built there are going to be thousands without jobs and Caymanian families will starve.

    • Anonymous says:

      We already starving.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well it hasn’t been built for the 30 years cruise ships have been coming here and arrivals are still on the up, so explain how thousands will starve if we don’t go ahead with this monumental folly.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Complex and sensitive means that we are not going to tell you anything until we have worked out who gets what and have spent your money.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “The government was committed to seeing the cruise lines cover the costs while ownership of the piers remained in public hands.” = Wishful thinking. If a cruise line pays for something they control it. On paper it might be mutual ownership or a joint venture but in reality by the time the ink dries on the agreement the cruise line will own the whole thing. If you don’t believe me ask Robert Hamaty – he’s already realised were this is going and expressed concern about it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    typical non-update from ppm….

  16. Trix says:

    Yawn; fix the landfill issue!

  17. Diogenes says:

    Complex and sensitive – on the contrary, it will be entirely straightforward and very brief!

    CIG “can you fork out $200m for the privilege of continuing to come to Cayman and an easier disembarkation process – we get to keep the piers and charge you for suing them as well”.

    Cruise lines “Why on earth would we do that?”

    CIG “Because we don’t have any money, we cannot afford to lose the recurring income from cruise ship fees, and the public wont like it if you keep the piers you have paid for”.

    Cruise lines “Not our problem bobo. Build a pier and we will pay to use it, let us build it and put shops at the end to pay for it, or don’t build it and we will decide whether its simply easier for us to go elsewhere”.

    Only complex and sensitive piece to that is explaining afterwards to the Cayman public.

  18. Anonymous says:

    So the PPM ting to do is rack up debt on unfinished projects just before election time…. Ala high schools projects …. They know they won’t be elected this coming election. They know whoever gets elected won’t be able to continue with their ill planned plans and the money already spent will be their driving force to being able to get their debt project done in the future. They know it takes 4 years for cayman amnesia to kick in so they can campaign next next election to try get in and continue rack up some more debt and more unfinished projects.

    Dump or Dock?

    I say tek dem and dump em off the dock.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The people of the Cayman Islands welcome any viable benefit to their lives.
    All they ask is that negotiations are not done behind closed doors, they are engaged every step of of the way and those doing the negotiating do not do underhanded deals for their own companies.

    If Moses Kirkconnell can make these promises of integrity to the people of the Cayman Islands, I say, “Let the negotiations begin”.

    We are not stupid, we know the meaning of “sensitive and complex” and if that implies that only the chosen few are in the know, then you can go and take a running jump.

  20. REALITY CHECK says:

    I hope the negotiations produce better results than what PPM achieved with the sale of the Dragon Bay freehold to DART.

    Further evidence of Progressive talents and our government getting fleeced when locked in complex and sensitive negotiations against first world talent sitting across the table.

    The future looks bleak

    • Anonymous says:

      So run for office in 2017. Explain how you can do it better. Get elected and do it. Otherwise STFU.
      When negotiating from a weak position due to the decisions of previous Governments is a tough road.

    • Anonymous says:

      11.39am If you are an example of the future, it is really bleak.

  21. Who Dares Wins says:

    Political Suicide by PPM building a 400m albatross project

    • Ed Teach says:

      Hold on there, Who Dares! None of their prior suicidal building projects seem to hurt them too much. It just hurts us poor folks!

      • Anonymous says:

        Because the Cayman voters are stupid and since the majority of voters work for the government and are afraid to vote out these bums for fear of retribution, the rest of us will be stuck in this never ending merry go round.

        • Ted Trueblood says:

          It is obvious we already ARE stuck in the political merry go round.

        • Abrana Banks says:

          Caymanian voters are stupid? Check what just happened in the UK. They realized after the fact, that they did not know what they were voting for. Millions of U.S. voters could soon realize their mistake.

          • Anonymous says:

            They knew exactly what they were voting for. They do not have shit for brains. Now, the young know-it-alls, that is a different matter.

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