Gov’t signs another cruise line deal

| 15/05/2019 | 58 Comments
Cayman News Service

MSC ship in George Town harbour

(CNS): The government has entered into a funding agreement with MSC Cruises toward the costs of constructing Grand Cayman’s cruise berthing facility. This is the fourth cruise company that has reportedly committed to a financing deal with the Cayman Islands Government, even though the project is being tendered with potential developers as a design-build-finance project. Premier Alden McLaughlin said Wednesday that this fourth deal will prevent the need for public funding for the controversial project and was “a win-win situation for the country, the preferred bidder and the cruise lines”.

However, the announcement comes just as the campaign for a people-initiated referendum on the project is about to complete its petition, which will trigger a national ballot about the proposed project. Government has claimed that if the campaign was successful it would derail the project.

In the statement, issued by the premier’s office and not the tourism minister, McLaughlin said that with four cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Disney and now MSC) committed to the project, it would not be exposed to risk.


“These agreements, coupled with the finance to be provided by whichever entity is eventually selected as the preferred bidder on the project, ensure that no public funding will be required to build the cruise berths and enhanced cargo facility,” he said.

“As well as strengthening the project’s financing structure, having cruise companies financially vested in the project provides assurance that the country’s finances will not be exposed to risk and is a positive indication of their commitment to our Islands for decades to come. It is a win-win situation for the country, the preferred bidder and the cruise lines.”

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said the agreement represents another key milestone in the project. “MSC operates more than 1,000 routes globally and is one of the fastest growing cruise companies in the world,” he said. “Their commitment to the Cayman Islands will help to sustain and grow our cruise tourism industry into the future.”

The statement also claimed that the cruise berthing facility project “has undergone a rigorous procurement process to identify a preferred bidder to construct the berthing facility within a design, build, finance and maintain framework” — which is disputed by campaigners.

Numerous questions remain unanswered and the government has not responded to a plethora of queries from the press, campaigners and the public about the project. Just yesterday more design images were leaked which indicated that the government has already made decisions about the project, even though the tendering process is ongoing.

It is also understood that the government has not responded to a letter sent by campaigners warning government that the petition for the referendum is nearing completion and that it should avoid signing any binding deals that could, in the long run, cost the public purse dear.

It is not clear how binding the four agreements government has made with the cruise line are, but like it or not, the government will have to hold a referendum on the port project, and given the level of public opinion against the project, it may very well come down against pursuing the project.

Government has said publicly through its anti-referendum campaign that a nationwide vote on the issue would derail the project entirely. But CNS understands that behind closed doors the government expects to win the referendum. Its confidence may not be altogether misplaced, as it will hold all the cards.

Government gets to set the wording of the question, which will be extremely important, and also gets to set the date. It will have access to the public purse to fund its campaign and, most important of all, a people-initiated referendum is already stacked against the people because the vote must reflect 50% plus one of the entire electoral register and not just 50% plus one of the voter turnout.

Nevertheless, it is not a foregone conclusion. The results of the very first public opinion survey on this project during the first EIA consultation process was three to one against and that level of opposition has been persistent. Straw polls and other online surveys have all indicated that around three quarters of the people are either opposed or do not feel sufficiently informed to support the project.

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (58)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “…no public funding will be required….”.

    Really? No such thing as a free lunch Bobo. We’ll pay for it after completion for the next 20-30 years or so. The Government’s lack of transparency undermines everything they say and they lack credibility on the whole subject as a result.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “there is none so blind as he who will not see”. the dock in town will be bad news all around, wait and see.
    George Town is not the place to have that dock.

  3. Ron Ebanks says:

    Do we realize that if cruise ship tourism grows to 5 ships per day times 4 days per week , that number of people landed on Grand Cayman infustructure won’t be able to handle it and it would piss the Citizens and the Tourist that puts thousands of dollars each daily.

    Let me break down the above numbers down for you 5 ships ×5,000 passengers = 25,000 daily × 4 days per week = 100,000 people every 4 days . Who will enjoy living and vacationing on a little Island the size of Cayman ?? And those numbers are low .

    • Anonymous says:

      For a government to do a project against the will of the majority of the people , huh….that’s really bad governance..

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is not in the national best interest to stop a much needed infrastructure project for a paid marketing campaign that can’t get the right support after a full year of campaigning.
    This dock is a dream, it will be paid for without public funds, it has the support of all the major cruise lines, we have the best possible solution with the least amount of environmental impact.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the best cruise deal we’ve ever had on the table. The last deal had the public paying for it for 99 years. This one has cruise lines paying for it. Definitely a dream deal.

      • Anonymous says:

        Almost sounds too good to be true…

      • Anonymous says:

        Nobody knows what it will cost. Owen Roberts was targeted at $55mln which included a 20% cost over-run and we are far in excess of that and it’s not even finished. $180 min was target for the project long before this version at a unknown cost and viability…dunce logic can no longer prevail. We need grownups in charge.

        • Anonymous says:

          1:11, The final price the Canadians proposed for the project will be the approximate price that the newly renovated Owen Roberts will cost, still without jetways.

          The Caymanian grown ups are too busy with their hands out. That in a nutshell is the problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bobo, Cruise lines are not going to spend over $250 million of their own funds and not own the port outright. Wake up. Are you dreaming?

  5. GreedKillingUnna says:

    What the heck happened to the people having a voice?! Stop signing agreements until we know that the majority wants to DESTROY HOG STY BAY for future generations. Shrimp heads!

    • Anonymous says:

      The people have a say every 4 years and every administration for the last 15 years has been hell bent on building a dock. Isn’t 15 years enough. What more of a say do you want?

      • Anonymous says:

        The last election was NOT / NOT run on the basis of building a new port.

        Moving The Dump was the big issue but that has been forgotten.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the people cared you would have had the required signatures in a month. Instead it has taken many many months and dishonest stories to trick some people into signing. Government needs to put a stop to the petitioners who have become a public nuisance.

  6. Cayman Mon says:

    Build the PORT now!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yea get those communist Chinese in here buckaroo!

    • Anonymous says:

      We elected PPM and they pledged to build our cruise and cargo dock. Stop wasting time and build it or you won’t get re-elected. Hope you realise your voters care about the jobs for our families.

      We trying to make a living everyday we don’t have time to talk about this anymore. Just build it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah 10:11, We also elected the PPM to fix The Dump. Get your priorities right. The Dump needs to be moved as it is a ticking time bomb. To hell with the new Port.

        • Sand Whitey says:

          @11:07 Moved?? Really now?? So there can be not one but two contaminated areas on island?? You’re against the port but all for spreading contamination?? Then you have the nerve to talk about “Getting Priorities Right”… Thank God no island wide decision making is done by people like you nor the people who liked your comment… *WHEW*

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually the PPM didn’t get elected as the majority party. They bought the support of the opposition with the Speaker slot, and a number of independents with cushy posts.

      • Anonymous says:

        AMEN. We not like those foreigners who have already made their living and have free time to put their nose in our country business. They don’t care whether our kids have jobs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Move The DUMP now. Get your friggin priorities right.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Completely unnecessary but I’ll support this project just to piss off the annoying know it all protesters.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am beyond fed up of their intrusive tactics. Whosoever’s idea it was to go knocking on office doors during business hours, distracting staff and intruding on ongoing meetings should be ashamed. People know where to go to sign the petition. If they are not going its because they don’t want to sign. The petition organisers need to accept that, move on and stop forcing themselves into other peoples businesses and lives.

      • Anonymous says:

        Is there a law against the aggressive soliciting of signatures like these petition people are doing? They are worse than beggars on the street. Such a nuisance I’m really tired of them. Can’t police do something about them? If they couldn’t get signatures in a couple of months then police should put stop to them hounding us.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Referendums would be a great idea for same-sex marriages? Why not have one about tinted glass, marijuana use, taking all motorcycles off the island, more classical music, more rapper concerts, more public beaches, taller buildings, sterilization of dangerous drug addicts, etc, etc. The more you think about it, we could run the whole Gov’t. We could get the whole island to do one on legalizing racing on the main roads every Sunday?

    • Anonymous says:

      A Referendum on moving The Dump should be the highest priority. Wake up Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d support legalizing Cannabis. Divert the profits from drug lords into tax money and stop ruining people’s lives over a plant while allowing tobacco.

      Too many poor people in Jamaica with access to plantations of it = no shortage of desperate smugglers.

      Canada, Mexico and many states in USA already fully legal.

  9. Ron Ebanks says:

    Boy him flexing a load of muscles , or is he just bluffing and bullying .
    Now that the Government was served with letter/notice asking not to proceed with any further business that pertaining to the pier till after the petition is completedand handed in , and he Aden is talking about putting more tiger sharks in the pier project . One cruise is not bad , but 4 of them would eat everyone breakfast lunch and dinner including Government..

    • Anonymous says:

      Served? They are just full of fluff and delaying tactics. This dock is coming.

    • Anonymous says:

      I disagree. 4 means 4 cruise ships every single day instead of 6 one day, 0 the next, 5 the day after and so on. If you depended on cruise ships you’d be glad to have guaranteed work every single day instead of having some days full and others with nothing at all.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Build our dock

  11. Anonymous says:

    Faux assertions of bankability without having provided any proof that any binding arrangements actually exist. Classic.

    • Anonymous says:

      They really should be thinking 50 years down the road long term and building two docks. One in GT, one in bodden town. And move the container dock to spots.
      This distributes the traffic (keep putting everything in gt and there is no way you can alleviate the traffic no matter how many roads you build) , makes bodden town land more valuable and promotes housing and job development in bodden town.

      But… thinking long term…..never.

  12. Anonymous says:

    MSC is a bargain basement cruise company. WTF are these Cabinet goons doing courting discount passengers that add no revenue to anything? #dunces

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr Premier, now let’s build the dock.

  14. Anonymous says:

    More fluff from Alden and his clowns

  15. Anonymous says:

    Not surprising that all 4 cruise lines have signed on, they know their passengers do not want to use the tenders to come ashore. This is proof the industry needs the piers.

    • Anonymous says:

      What industry? Not ours. Our benefits are marginal, their benefits enormous – and it harms our environment and our main stayover tourism product. If no Carnival or MSC ship ever came here – we would be better off!

      • Anonymous says:

        True, but Celebrity, Seven Seas, and even Royal Caribbean and Princess, are probably worth it.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Seems like the PPM is desperate to push this beyond the point of no return, ignoring 25% of the voting public, the constitution and anything resembling good governance. Presumably if they do, they can then authorise cancellation penalties and still get their bonuses

    • Anonymous says:

      yes because 25% is the majority. *rolls eyes. Sounds like you needed to work for hillary clinton, because obviously 25% is the popular vote, that counts.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Git R Dun!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Nice to have them on board because they deal with cargo also, Mediterranean shipping company is one of the largest shipping companies in the world, get this referendum crap out of the way so we can get started on the much needed dock

    • Anonymous says:

      Needed? Like an iPhone 10, a Mercedes, and a gold watch are needed?

      I think you need to reset your parameters.

  19. Anonymous says:

    How much cash are the cruise lines putting into the port project that we will have to pay back?

  20. Johann Moxam says:

    The announcement of another cruise line’s commitment does not answer outstanding fundamental questions about the proposed cruise berthing facility. From the very limited information the Government has disclosed it appears that the commitment from the cruise lines is only to bring passengers, which is essentially no different from the current status quo.

    1. Will there be any monies paid upfront and what are the terms of the agreements?

    2. What is the Government’s anticipated annual target commitment from the cruise lines for passengers per year to make the financing agreement viable?

    Is the commitment 2.5million – 3.3million passengers per year? Why will our government and leaders not share this basic information with the public?

    As the age old adage goes, the devil is in the details, however the Government continues to be unwilling to discuss the details and terms of the contract and financing model with the public. Without this critical information, we are still in the dark about how much this will actually cost the Cayman Islands and what risks we are exposing ourselves to long term.

    Unfortunately, there are more questions than answers.

    Johann Moxam
    On behalf of CPR

  21. Anonymous says:

    So the headline from last week about no deals signed, should have the word “yet” at the end of it,

    • Anonymous says:

      7:19 and 7:19. You mean you dont know the difference between a contract to design and build the piers and a deal to pay for it . Get help!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Why do you morons assume the former quote of $180mln will square the tab on the revised 80 ft deep, exposed blue water port – a man-made structure without precedent, in the middle of the hurricane belt, sitting atop a cavernous limestone mountain on the edge of several active tectonic plates? How many times are we going to have to build and rebuild this thing?

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