Cruise dock: economic and environmental questions

| 25/10/2016 | 34 Comments

Cayman News Service‘I don’t want to be a politician’ writes: The truth about the port is that no one can truly assess the environmental damage impact that dredging will have on 7 Mile Beach. A review of sea current action and wind patterns over the past 20+ years indicate a strong probability that silt sediment (and there is no effective way to control 100 percent) will be swept towards 7 Mile Beach during the periods of dredging, which ostensibly will start and stop due to inclement weather.

The other important factor is that the $200-300 million is not and cannot be cemented, for in this type of construction process there will be delays due to weather, due to unexpected breakage, slow downs by workers, etc. A not too far-fetched figure considering all the issues that could arise is $500 million, including the builder’s profit margin.

So, the question arises as to how will government fund this venture The Kirk crew don’t want upland development for it will supposedly detract from their business, the government can’t borrow the money on its own and so we don’t know and haven’t heard where the money is going to come from. Shouldn’t the people be told? Indeed they should if potentially they may be saddled with debt.

Now we know the cruise ships are frothing at the mouth to get their hands into Cayman, making veiled threats that if you don’t build it then your numbers coming in will reduce, and so this is the driving force for government to pursue this huge development: the money gained with increased numbers through the big ships — the everlasting float that government depends on to fund the Cayman Islands budget.

People, at least 450 cruise ships per year may provide some of the funding for this proposed cruise dock, but that number cannot be completely guaranteed and will never be guaranteed in an agreement as there are too many varying factors that come into play. Besides, Cuba is here to stay with cruise ship docks all around the island, massive attractions and people trained to speak various languages, thus able to accommodate not only American cruise tourism but also European.

So the question at the end of the day always will be the same, no matter how you twist it: Can the Cayman Islands and its people, present and future, afford this project? Can other means be sought to increase the numbers without having our shoreline and town line become unsightly by these monstrosities and the town itself become a bedlam of uncontrollable masses, as there is really not much space to hold the numbers anyway? Are there going to be more attractions created to spread the numbers or will places like Sting Ray City be completely obliterated by sheer numbers?

Ask your politicos ask your so-called representatives. Make them come out and tell you how — the full details. Don’t wait until March 2017. These that are in power are doing the same thing they criticized the previous government for: not telling the people anything. Is this right?

This comment was originally posted in response to this article: CIG targets cruise RFP before Nomination Day


Category: 2017 General Elections, development, Local News, Marine Environment, Politics, Science & Nature, Viewpoint

Comments (34)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Went to the FCCA last year in Cozumel, Mexico and learned a lot. First , there is diving on the cruise ship docks when ships are not in port , so good reefs and fish are seen there. Second , the docks are on the windward side, all currents go into shore their town area. Third ,they don’t rely on Banking , but it is very cheap there. Fourth, 2/3 of their land is swampland and protected. Fifth , they have 3.5 million tourist from cruise lines and don’t feel crowded. Because they only are found at the bar, tourist attraction areas. Sixth, Mexicans understand they are on a island so they have multistory Apts, hotels, Condos, areas. Whats wrong with it? It takes less land. Mexicans are very friendly, thats who you will meet in shops,Rest., Bars,Hotels etc. which makes sense. Most of them are not qualified.

  2. I will only make some short comments and its to ask what is the carrying capacity of this island so that we don’t make our roads any crazier than they are now?Many people seem to think that more is better number wise but if it affects the way we live and if it affects the stay over business then we need to look at this very closely.Yes we need cruise tourism but when is enough enough when it comes to daily numbers?Would love to see how we can handle anything over 20-25000 people without becoming the KeyStone cops in terms of bedlam on the roads AND at or popular attractions.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It is obvious that the author of this comment really does not know what they are talking about and neither have they read the 2400 pages of the EIA as amended and redacted with corrections to misinformation and incorrect information included in the original release of the document. I would encourage the author of the comment to study all the massive amounts of documentation which is readily accessible in the public domain and carry out proper due diligence to inform themselves of the real and proven truthful facts in this matter which covers an enormous amount of issues and considerations for this project. Please do your homework .

    • RCCL Employee says:

      To understand what it takes to tie up the Oasis class ship, the EIA will have to be completely redone with the whole new design of the cruise berthing facility. Too bad Government never talked to RCCL before spending on a design and EIA that were both worthless.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can we see that review of the currents that you must have made up.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why is it that “other” countries have no problems building huge, awesome, ports, roads and whole cities and Cayman can’t build anything of note except a very large garbage pile? There is a very good reason for this. Its simple. And not going to change any time soon. If you can see this and understand life will not be so confusing to live here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Name another country that is the same size of Grand Cayman, with the same topography and surrounded by Marine Parks.

  6. Anonymous says:

    7 mile beach has been dredged already in 1984 when Rhapsody ran aground unfortunately the large dredge boat dumped over 70 feet of materiel on the reef. But nothing happened to the reef and we didn’t lose sand. So come with a better BS argument . We need the port wished it was in East End I could retire early . I would put rum and coconut water together and sell it for $5 per glass. That saying GT is where it’s going. It will be good for the economy of the country.

  7. Caymanian says:

    Spoken like a true supporter, NOT!!!

    People no one knows what the impact will be against the environment. The government is doing the best they can to limit the impact but NO CONSTRUCTION PROJECT EVER CREATED HAD ZERO IMPACT!!! We will have impact, our hopes and desires is that it will be minimal.

    Now to the rest of the garbage. The Cruiselines are pressing us because of good reason. They want to sail bigger ships which hold more passengers which lowers the cost per passenger and increases the profits for the cruiselines. The Cayman Islands is a viable destination that many passengers want to visit and we are not with the program that the cruiselines want us on so OF COURSE they want us able to manager the larger vessels and to that end they are willing to invest because they VALUE THE CAYMAN ISLANDS. If they did not we would not see one red cent from them.

    So, how will it be built? It will be more than likely a Public/Private partnership project with the cruiselines. As to the amount $500M is probably a tad high end. I would say $400M to $450M might be closer. It might even be under if the estimators did some of factoring in as I would imagine they would do and I am padding on top because they always operate a bit too tight.

    Paying for it would come via fees and we need to assess where we are in fees as it relates to other Caribbean countries. We need divert some of these fees to this and some to environment to help mitigate anything that happens.

    One thing I would do is invest in finding ways to protect the beaches well in advance. Find out what can be done in situations such as this and start that prior to the dredging to stop things before they start.

    The simple facts are. As bad as some seem to rate the cruise industry it is a significant part of our tourism product and many people are employed in this part of the tourism industry. Cruiselines are getting larger boats and slowly retiring smaller ones. As usual the Cayman Islands is behind. Why I have no idea. We seem to love it I guess. We need stop the bickering and start working together to get it done. The first change of position needs to be YES WE NEED IT. Then let’s all sit down and figure out how it can be done while protecting all we hold dear. The problem I see some blind bats still don’t think it’s needed.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you will find you have got the wrong end of the stick with the cruise operators’ views. They have plenty of other destinations without Cayman. They really don’t care if we are on the list or not. As you say what the bulk of them do care about is their ability to use ever bigger vessels – we are seeing a clear split in the market between mass and boutique ships. We are not, and are unlikely ever to be, a destination for the really high end boutique ships and the mass market ships are getting bigger and bigger. Passengers do not like to use lifeboats or tenders to get ashore so having us on the list for mass market ships is a source of negative feedback for their customers. So… what they are saying is ‘its up to you… if you want us build a dock… if not … fine.’ This is an important distinction. If they really wanted / needed us then the negotiations would be from equal power and we might get a good deal. As it is they have al the negotiating power and we will not get a good deal from them.
      Bottom line is that the size of the mass cruise market has already outgrown Cayman’s physical size and ‘destination specific’ attraction availability. Improving port infrastructure will not change that. We are going to have to ween ourselves off mass market cruises sooner rather than alter.

      • Caymanian says:

        I don’t think you are accurate there.

        For mass market cruiselines it’s about variety and selection and the Cayman Islands is still highly sought after as a destination.

        We have been on a steady rise for the past 3 years and our projected passenger counts are slated to be the highest going all the way back to 2006.

        What I am getting at is the NUMBERS speaks to something completely different than what you are saying unless you are able to hear what the tourist are thinking.

        That said if there is a desire to come here then there would be a desire by the industry to secure that destination. How much I cannot say to be honest because that has to do with more than what they want and has to do with what they can afford.

        The piers would not only allow us to bring more tourist but also allow them to spend more time ashore potentially increasing the spend per person here in the Cayman Islands.

        If our numbers were in decline I could find some reason to agree but the numbers say Cayman is a desired destination.

        • CBM says:

          I don’t think that when 7:41 said ‘the mass cruise market has already outgrown Cayman’s physical size and ‘destination specific’ attraction availability’ he/she meant Cayman is no longer an attractive destination – but rather that mass tourism is not the best interest of Cayman. I agree and as a nation I think we should be more concerned about the sustainability our economy and stability of growth in the long term.

          As those who work in tourism know it is a volatile industry and requires dependence on the wealth of other economies. My question is what happens when those economies aren’t doing well and we have even more people employed in the industry to cater to larger numbers? I think it would be much better in the long run to cater to some niche markets like eco-tourism and the more affluent market rather than the low value tourists. And then invest in STEM and the arts- these are much better in developing our people to solve more of our problems and give a higher quality of life.

          When cruise liners can reduce the average cost per tourist with larger cruises they will then compete with each other on price – attracting more low income tourists who won’t bring much value to the island. More numbers also cause more ecological damage and require more infrastructure and maintenance investment – Cayman can go in this direction but I don’t think it’s the best option. Eco-tourism, event tourism, sports tourism, celebrity tourism etc… are better options.

          We cannot market what we are not but we can chose what we become instead of being shaped by external forces. It is our choice! But it takes a strong leader that can provide the vision and implement the change.

  8. Anonymous says:

    independent environmental experts will answer that question…not you or me…..

    • Anonymous says:

      They did. They said ‘fix GT before building a dock. Less environmental and economic cost and more return on what you spend.’

  9. Anonymous says:

    Marketing yourself as upscale only works if you are upscale. George Town is pretty much the opposite of upscale.

  10. Veritas says:

    Environmental concerns aside, most of our cruise sheep arrive on Carnival ships ranking lowest in terms of onshore spending. It does not make sense to incur hundreds of millions of dollars of debt for these tight wads who you can observe flocking around George Town carrying nothing but their purses and tucking in to free rum cake.Spending Government’s scarce funds on our education and health systems rather than these foreigners is a no brainer.

    • Pipe Smoker says:

      You have to try to understand, Veritas…. It makes sense to some of our folks who are already rich but want to be richer. They are driven by the almighty dollar, and could care less about others. Sad, isn’t it!

  11. Anonymous says:

    ‘Upscale cruise destination?’ LOL, taking aside the fact that I think you mean upmarket where did you pull that delusion from?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Harsh reality – even if the dock costs $200million as estimated and doesn’t over-run we will never, ever recoup that money or the on-going costs of maintaining the structure. This is basic arithmetic and the figures simply don’t add up unless you have a masters degree in creative accounting.

    And while we’re faffing around with this guess what’s happening just across the water in Jamaica? British Airways and Thomson are increasing the number of flights from the UK to cater for a 31% increase in stayover tourism from the UK and Ireland. And do you know why that is? Because, unlike Grand Cayman, Jamaica (along with Cuba and many other destinations in the region) offers a wide range of excellent all inclusive resorts like Sandals and that’s where the real money is.

    • Anonymous says:

      You need to return to school to study your ‘Maths’ because your statement in this regard has no founding in reality for this project.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Build the dock, save our economy. Cruise is a massive economic pillar for our island. A port is a lifeline for any island, it is where most of anything we have comes through. Don’t believe the environmental crazies and doomsday believers. Save our taxi drivers, tour operators, restaurants, souvenir shops, coconut sellers, retail of all kinds…the list goes on. We all are impacted positively, either directly or indirectly, by the money that comes in through cruises. Not to mention the government fees that are made off every single person that arrives to Cayman, which in turn pays for all the public services we all enjoy and take for granted.

  14. Anonymous says:

    If dredging is done in George Town Harbour Seven Mile Beach will never be the same.

    • SSM345 says:

      SMB stands to disappear or diminish significantly because of this project and why this massive risk is being overlooked by the Pro-Pier Crew blows my mind.

  15. Anonymous says:

    the environmental impact can be assessed and hopefully mitigated….this has happened with every other major port development in the world….

    the real question is economics….and the bottom line is cayman cannot not afford it.
    We have heard scare stories for years regarding cruise tourism….but cayman is now now busier than ever…..
    cayman should market itself as a tendered upscale cruise destination and plan accordingly….
    the idea that megaships is the only thing that will save cayman is laughable….

    • Anonymous says:

      Hopefully mitigated? Which planet do you live on 11:13? Over development is ruining our environment and your talking about hopefully mitigating the damage done to acres of coral? Are you smoking crack or are you just that block headed?

    • SSM345 says:

      No mitigation available for the loss of 7MB or our natural marine environment, once its damaged or gone, you can kiss Cayman goodbye, they are the very reasons why we have visitors to our Islands. What will be the plan then? Tear out the pier and hope it comes back?

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