Why not Pedro?

| 20/08/2010

Much has been said about a cruise ship docking facility on Grand Cayman. We are probably the last place in the Caribbean to realise we need such a facility. What are we waiting for? Until all ships have bypassed us and like services to our people and visitors? We have gotten so complacent; we let them wait weeks and months for a simple approval.

Wake up! We are no longer living in a time when we can hold up progress by just not doing our work and allowing all kinds of obstacles to distract us. We are living in a very competitive world, education being a key component. Good manners, honesty and impeccable service – the countries that have these will succeed.

Our economy, like all countries in the world, is in trouble. We mustbe creative and again look for that crystal ball that helped Cayman in the past. The cruise ship dock looks like it will cost $200 million, presumably CI dollars. This is a lot of money for this country. I am not an engineer, but I believe we need to use good old common sense.

Why don’t we do this dock on the ironshore of Pedro St. James Castle? Government has a fair amount of ironshore land here and, if needs be, could purchase more reasonably. I understand the water next to the ironshore is at least 300 feet deep – no need to dredge.

Put as many finger piers as is needed and far enough apart that the cruise ships can come in between the piers and land their people. These piers could be covered and on a big enough land area with adequate restrooms and eating places to comfortably take care of the arrivals. Use videos to welcome our guests. At the end of each pier, have a Caymanian giving discount books, including special return airline and hotel fares, and a general information brochure on the Island.

A good public transit company should be formed, allowing only Caymanians and status holders to buy in, limiting the amount of shares for company or individual and allow present tour bus companies and taxis to purchase up to 70 percent. Visitors would be bussed over the Island to attractions such as duty free/gift shops, the Turtle Farm and the Botanic Park.

Have a designated area for booked water sports and those who are interested in doing water sports. Let these operators pick up their people and save time.

The deck at Pedro would be a better sheltered area and ships should be able to dock there almost every day of the year versus docking in George Town, where in the winter months it is plagued with northwesters. That is the busiest time of year and ships will have to pass us by.

I am sure we would save half of this $200 million, save the environment and save time. Cruise ship arrivals is a big industry; every person should have bread on the table.

Pedro Castle is here and close by. It is a huge dug out area across from the ironshore in Pedro. Government should assist the owners to use this as a lobster, shrimp and conch farm. This would be a great attraction. A fee could be charged and it would make money as well as generate food.

What has happened to the cruise ships’ offer to build a dock? This would be good business to have the people who will use the dock involved. They are the ones that will pay for the project.

If Pedro is used for the dock, government should add dock space for visiting yachts. Let’s save our God-given treasure, the North Sound, for future generations to enjoy.

Remember Cayman is a low lying island in the path of hurricanes and earthquakes. We should not be excavating our shores.

This is precious time we are dealing with.

Once these ships have moved out, it will take a while to get them to return or they may never do so. Let’s do the right thing for Cayman. Let’s start now. Delay is dangerous. We are losing business. Together we can make Cayman a better and more successful island. Let’s start.

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  1. Sam says:

     I live at Pedro Castle area and guess what those yard wide coral heads did not get on the the bluff 40 feet above normal sea level by either man or grew there in their past life – No recent storms threw them there.

    Bill Eden’s point is a natural low point in the bluff there and the roll up wave action causes the famous savannah gap flooding problem and I suggest we don’t  cut any man made channels around that part or the farming area of lower valley may become the nextsea salt farm.

  2. Marek says:

    There are a couple of questions you need to ask about the dock.

    Are the 1.8 million passengers good for Cayman?

    What would make them want to come? Or more importantly…

    What would make them not want to come?

    Downtown is a crowded commercial hub with +/- 150 retail operations who get their income from the cruise ship industry.

    The ships are already … downtown…

    So the next question to ask is, how would those 1.8 million people feel being dropped off in the middle of nowhere and having to be bused for an hour to get … downtown.

    We’ve just lost 25% of the cruise business and the reason is because the passengers don’t like having to be tendered and the cruise ship operators don’t like the added costs.

    They are voting with their wallets and making a choice to go elsewhere.

    Should we completely relocate all the downtown businesses to some new location where the port would be located?

    What would happen to the buildings downtown?

    Cruise passengers complain when they get bused from East End due to weather. They complain about the bus trip to West Bay for the turtle farm.

    The answers to the questions, also tell you where the port should be located and its an obvious decision.

  3. Anonymous says:

     Face it:  There is NO good location to put a cruise ship dock in Cayman!!  This Island is TOO SMALL and already it is straining from  too much of everything.  Keep the big  ships where they are and bring the tourists in on the tenders.  You people who want those gigantic monster ships up close and personal are out of your minds! 

  4. Anonymous says:

    Very entertaining reading all the comments and watching as The locals show their complete disdain for one another.  Not to mention The great Caymanian trait of "I know everything" all evidence to the contrary.  Much like the Government they will never listen to experience or intelligence believing it to be a foreign culture thing.  The good thing about Cayman is that it will never be much more than it already is.  You can count on any infrastructure project to take way too long, cost way too much, and still not work in the end.  The tenacity of the take what you can give nothing back attitude will keep Cayman from ever turning into another "Waikiki".  Much to the delight of people like me that like uncrowded and unhurried lifestyle places. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    A safe harbour at Pedro sounds great if it can be done inland within that Hugh unusable quarry that is There now. The extraction of materials could serve for our future needs for fill and once a channel is cut into the Pedro’s bluff and the floor dug deep enough for ships. There is no bad weather in the world could hamper berthing there. The foundation for the finger could be left and then canals be dug out and a proper terminal constructed around the perimeter of the quarry.

  6. anonymous says:

    Pedro is definitely not the place for the new dock.  The best possible place to put that dock is at Boatswaine, in West Bay.  They already have the infrastructure in place and minimal dredging will be needed there, as the water is very deep.  I dunno why McKeeva cannot see the feasibility in that. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, he can see the feasibility alright since that is where had planned to put the cruise ship port years ago when he developed Boatswain Beach. But when the ‘Bayers objected he had to withdraw that plan. Now he figures he can run roughshod over EEnders because they are not in his voting district.  I just hope that enough sensible people in Cayman will stand with them.  Where are all the environmentalists who objected to the PPM building a road through the Ironwood forest? Are they too afraid to take on this govt.?

  7. Anonymous says:

     Cayman has reached the saturation point in regards to population  and development!  Please don’t ruin the beautiful Pedro area with a Cruise Ship dock.  And while you are at it, can we stop calling this little island a "country".  It is (at least used to be) a little Island Paradise.  Try to save it and keep it that way.

    • well, not quite says:

       Cayman has reached it’s saturation point of development and population?

      While I wish that was true at the current density, you may want to look at the ‘potential’ Mac sees by comparing Cayman to Singapore, the mountainous island nation that is not a whole lot larger than Cayman, however is home to 4 million people and very prosperous. 

      Singapore is listed as 693km squared while Cayman is 262 km square.

      Population density in Singapore is 6649 persons per square km.

      Source: http://www.mongabay.com/igapo/world_statistics_by_area.htm

      Cayman is 183 persons per square km. Cayman has loads of room to increase the population and development standards of the world. Personally I would like to see it remain low density, however I don’t believethat will happen with the current administration. 

      I still believe Macs goal is reach 100,000 people in Cayman in the very near future. 

      • well, not quite says:

        to correct my sentence above that read

        Cayman has loads of room to increase the population and development standards of the world.

        should have read

        Cayman has loads of room to increase the population and development based on comparisons of other island nations in the world.



      • Anonymous says:

         If we do NOT reach 100,000 people, we WILL go bankrupt.  

        Our politicians have made it VERY clear that they will continue to support a bloated overpaid civil service, free airfares for cronies, jaunts for most senior government employees and the only way to pay for this costs is by taxing a larger population, period.

        You can’t have it both ways….want free schools, free food, nice roads, lots of extra perks?  Someone’s got to pay (live, shop, build) here.


  8. Man says:

    Everyone wants something done, just not in their backyard. Let’s move forward with the dock plans for East End and the Cruise berth in George Town, improve the Spotts birthing facilities, add more cruise ships to make that investment pay for itself.

    We Caymanians do not have any money to invest so let’s stop acting like we are an authority on these matters and do what we have done for the last 40 years. Shut up and let the investors get on with it. I need to make some money and this economy sucks.

    Had we made education a priority years ago we would have money and be able to speak to these infrastructural needs, instead, we took trips to Miami, settled for a high school education and grew to believe Cayman is the world. So shut up and let the people with money get on with it. There are some of us still wanting to eat and educate our children. And yes, I am a Caymanian Man.

    Here is what I am not willing to pay for. Spending millions to build a wall to prevent flooding in an area that was a flood zone for the last 100 years and the landowners knew it, the purchasers knew it and under the last Government wanted tax payers to protect them? Hell no. Move. we can turn that into the Taxi parking lot.

    • noname says:

      So you would put the dock in the east.  Why?  The wall on the north, east and south of the Island is still in almost pristine condition compared to the west.  Why would you destroy THAT?

      The coral off 7MB is pretty busted up compared to the rest of the Island so it makes more sense to do any construction work in the same area that is already damaged and built up.  Public Beach is a pig sty with left over food, paper cups, bottles, etc left on the sand, lefty lying around not only by residents (by that I mean both work permit holders and locals) but by the same tourists you can’t wait to invite back, so why don’t they just keep the dock where it is and put the cruise ship berth at Public Beach.  That way this Island can at least preserve something that is still good and almost pristine and continue to build up the ugly west side of the island, and on the plus side the wind won’t be a factor.  Why ruin the east when the west is already ruined and likely to go even more downhill now that they’re allowing 10 storey buildings to be built?  That way the cruisers can walk straight on to Public Beach – almost like walking along the dock at Rum Point, just longer – and only take a bus into town if they want to hit the mega jewellery shops that are on top of each and all empty of customers anyway.  Problem solved.   😮

  9. Anonymous says:

    Unlike many of the people who responded tothe articles ideas I think George Town is a bad location for the future berthing and cargo port for the Cayman Islands.

    Moving to an area that will allow for future port expansion to grow with the country makes much more sense to me.

    The south side of the island in an area with enough room to last for the next 100+ years makes more sense to me. The risks of dredging along one end of 7 mile beach is an unnecessary potential environmental disaster.

    50 years from now the country will need more port area that George Town can handle. Then what will the future politicians do? Blame this generation of leaders for being short sighted and dim witted.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Frankly put it seems that the readers of this article knows more about this situation that the writer of this joke of an article.

    The prevailing winds for the Cayman Islands like in all Caribbean countries is from the east leaving the west coast sheltered. Why do you think that are most lovely asset in the Seven Mile Beach is on the west coast? Check the other Caribbean countries you will see a similar situation. So the best place would be along the west coast. We will have to live with the northwesters.

    Point number two is the infra-structure around having a dock at Pedro. Someone already mentioned having the double the road but are you ready to put all that added traffic in a residential area.

    Point number three is the cost to the tourist. Every passenger would have to take a taxi. With the current location passengers walk around in town or walk down the road to nearby beach’s.

  11. Anonymous says:

    a dock in 300 foot of water what a brainfart!!!!!!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    "The deck at Pedro would be a better sheltered area and ships should be able to dock there almost every day of the year versus docking in George Town, where in the winter months it is plagued with northwesters."

    Well we might be safe in northwesters but what about the other 90% of the time when the waves comes from the east or south. The George Town harbour is just that … a harbour. It is protected from the east and mostly the south. The St James area is one of the most exposed coastlines of our island. In hurricanes, the waves are monstrous in this area and there is no reef to protect anything.

    Perhaps we should just take 20% of the proposed cost and put it towards beautifying the harbour and upgrading our tenders so people will have a real different experience when they come to Cayman.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Cruiseship passengers can have berths in places like Miami but on a tiny tropical island like Cayman, even though it isinconvenient, it is an adventure to disembark on a tender boat. Much like landing on a grass airstrip in Little Cayman is an adventure, something you don’t do in the usual way of things. But then again, people USED to come to Cayman because it was unspoiled and the buildings on 7 Mile Beach were low, pretty Caribbean colours, with seagrapes instead of the omnipresent coconuts and highrise hotels. I am afraid it is too late to retain the original spirit of Cayman. Put a cruiseship berth wherever you like but in the end the tourists won’t come because Cayman will be like everywhere else.

    • Frequent Flyer says:

      Perfect post.

      Couldn’t have said it any better.

      And along similar lines…

      Can’t wait for the large concrete structure that is to be our new airport!

      Who on earth would want to depart a cold and rainy hometown to go on holiday and step out of an airplane directly on the tarmac and see people waving from an A-Frame with local music drifting thru the air as the heat hits you in the face. CAN’T WAIT to get your kit off and your swim trunks on and haul ass into the cool turquoise Caribbean sea!!

      Nah! Let’s enter an air conditioned cavern and stand in line.

      Perfect quote;

      "…in the end the tourists won’t come because Cayman will be like everywhere else."

  14. Beachboi says:

    Ms. Soto I would like to ask you to think about one of your statements.  That would be the part about building finger piers in 300 ft. of water.  I know the water off Pedro bluff isnt that deep, but please just think about your statement.  Duh!!!! 

    I think we should build the mega pier next to Dr. Shetty’s hospital so that we could double the benefit of the cruise and medical tourism markets!!!  😮

  15. Anonymously says:

    Good commentary; however, I think your bright suggestions are too late

  16. Anonymously says:

    Ha!  I think it’s too late for Pedro

  17. Anonymous says:

    You obviously don’t live anywhere near Pedro Castle. If you did you would appreciate that what you are proposing would absolutely ruin the area.

    You seem to have put alot of thought into this plan. Congrautlations for coming up with a coherent idea. However, there are many stakeholders that you have not considered. 

    This is one of the problems with governmental decision making, and a key reason why citizens should be more symplathetic to the powers that be. Yes, modernisation is necessary, but there are no easy answers. In my view, this definitely is not it!

  18. Durrrr says:

    I was hoping this would be posted on CNS. Ms. Soto clearly has no idea about the prevailing seas and winds in Cayman – our forefathers put the port on the West-side of the Island for a reason, namely because the other sides of the Island are rough, more often than not.

  19. Cayman Lover says:

    This essay is so ignorant. Put the dock by Pedro??? With the graveyard right there and one of our most important historical landmarks there as well? I can really see the construction of such a thing being great for all the tombs, burial ceremonies and those who just want to see their loved ones rest in peace. And what a toll it will take on Pedro Castle (recently restored by the way). Lots of construction workers, heavy equipment and possible demolition near by is certainly great for very old buildings.

    And once the dock is built aren’t we going to have hordes and hordes of tourists trampling around the grounds of Pedro Castle and the cemetery? What a mess! And as far as I can tell, there’s only a single road going in and out of that place. Will be have to build additional roads? Most certainly "yes" unless we want to have the mother of all traffic jams (taxis, private cars and tour buses) coming in and out of that place. Imagine the noise, the air pollution and the trash. The character of the entire area will be changed and not for the good.

    This is a really bad idea. Maybe we need a cruise berthing facility and maybe we don’t (I’m not entirely convinced that this thing is not simply a huge money grab by dishonest politicians and the cruise ship companies), but, if we are going ahead with it, put it somewhere else and leave Pedro alone!  

    • Anonymous says:

      At least free speech is still alive in Cayman.

      People have a right to voice their opinions, and in the ensuing debate the reasons for such decisions will come out.