Cruise port still in question

| 01/06/2011

(CNS): Government officials are still tight lipped about the current situation surrounding plans for cruise berthing facilities in George Town, although it is understood that the premier will be heading to Miami later this week to meet with the Florida Cruise Association. Since McKeeva Bush wrote to GLF Construction in April cancelling its exclusivity deal with the Port Authority and the Cayman government, he has yet to reveal his new intentions for that development. The opposition leader noted the irony this week when he pointed out government’s focus in the Throne Speech on the proposed East End cargo dock, which no one wants, contrasted with a complete absence of comment regarding the cruise town dock, which everyone does.

Although, as was revealed by CNS that the government has been in discussion with the Chinese firm, China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd, headquartered in Bejing, it has still not signed any deal with the potential new partner.

The premier said in a televised address on 9 May that he would be revealing his new plans not just for the George Town cruise port but another two projects, believed to be a new pier at the Turtle Farm and the redevelopment of Owen Roberts airport, the following night at a UDP public meeting. However, the premier again remained quiet, stating that he would reveal the details before the end of the month.

However, as May drew to a close no statements were released from the premier’s office and officials on the Port Authority Board are now directing all enquiries regarding the cruise port to the premier.

With the budget expected to be delivered sometime next week, the premier may be planning on delivering details of the latest development projects during the next Legislative Assembly meeting, but no date has been set for when the local politicians will be coming to parliament again.

Speaking at a public meeting in East End on Monday evening, where residents of the district were discussing their fears about, and objections to, the proposed East End Sea Port project, opposition leader Alden McLaughlin said government was wasting time focusing on the wrong development.

“One of the great ironies about this is that we really do need a port; we’ve been needing it for a long time,” he said, as he pointed to the George Town cruise port and the failure of government to get berthing facilities that can accommodate the new class of cruise ships. “Instead of the government focusing on getting the necessary port working up and running in George Town, it continues to waste time and resources on a project that is completely unnecessary.”

Compared to many of the other projects that government has proposed, or chewed over, since it came to office more than two years ago, the cruise berth development in George Town is the one that has the least opposition and the widest cross section of support. There is no political opposition and although there are still environmental concerns, even those who have opposed the idea because of the potential risks to Seven Mile Beach have been less vocal than with many of the other project proposals.

Although the UDP has said it is fully committed to developing cruise berthing facilities, the project seems to be floundering as a result of the negotiating difficulties coming out of the public-private sector approach.  Government had first turned to the Dart Group as its potential partner but those negotiations reportedly collapsed as a result of wrangling over the length of time the government was prepared to lease the facility to the developer in order for Dart to recoup its investment. However, this has never been officially confirmed and there have been indications that Dart had other concerns.

Although GLF said recently that it was fully prepared to start work by this summer and had the financing in place ready to be released once government signed a master agreement, the premier made a decision to pull the plug, it appears, as a result of wanting to explore other options with other developers.

Since government parted ways with GLF, it is understood that China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd had drawn up a potential MOU to set out the parameters for talks but the premier has reportedly not yet agreed to sign that proposed deal.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “Instead of the government focusing on getting the necessary port working and up and running in George Town, it continues to waste time and resources on a project that is completely unnecessary." 

    Well spoken, Alden.

    You might also have said,"…and dangerous in its potential for long-term ecological, aesthetic, physical, financial and psychological damage." 

    Yes, the psychological stress in those who love these islands is measureable, resulting in widespread anger and deep concern.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lets us stop this bickering and concentrate our efforts to achieve something in these islands.

    If these distractions and opposing politics continue, the island will be left behind while the rest of the world moves forward. Look at Singapore as an example– it was a fishing island in the 60"and where is it  today. If we work together with resolve we will go places.

    A word of advice for all those who are playing politics and not  looking at the country first. We all would have to apologise to our children for our folies which kept our country behind.

    • Libertarian says:

      Average people should have no restrictions from government to produce and start their own little projects. A free people are the grassroots of good economy. The governments (meaning both UK and CI governments) need to take their sticky hands off of the economy, financial center, and stop bogging  average people and small business owners down with costs and fees.  If this bloated government engages in these hugh projects, there will be more restrictions and hikes on the people. The role of Cayman / UK governments is to protect the Cayman citizens from (1) its own invasive and corrupt self upon the business, financial, and job market; (2) allow fair competition in restricting big businesses, corporations, and elites from having concessions, special favors, and coalitions with the government; (3) effectively fighting crime, fraud, and illigal landers; (4) upholding and defending the democratic rights and values of this Overseas Territory; (5) implementing measures in the community from possible natural disasters and improving on shelters; et cetera… If the governments would focus their time and energy on these things and leave the economy with the people, and at least allow the people and small business community to thrive in the market without any financial hindrances or petty laws preventing them from doing so, trust me, the economy eventually will turn around on its own accord, and jobs will be created. There is no need for any rush!!  We are the ones who are suppose to be producing, putting food on our tables, but instead these governments (more bent it seems towards socialism) have taken on that role, and continue to increase their fees and taxes on us! They are rushing the process on engaging in massive projects, yet where is the money?  Whose pockets are being filled?  Politiicans does not have the people's interest at heart!  This is not good news for our children and our future generation. I can only forsee a controlling government and these islands becoming like Turks and Cacois – into another welfare state, depended on mother for everything!  And that is how they want us!  They want the people "depended" so much on government that no one will be able to start and launch their own successful business/company without ease. This process is a complete government takeover!

  3. Of course it's real! says:

    If anyone is going to China soon could you pick me up one of those nice Daytona Rolex watches that all the waiters here wear.

  4. 3rd CLASS CITIZEN says:

    If Mac and his morons stop travelling so much maybe they could concentrate on getting the people's business done. It seems to me that they are to busy plotting and sceaming with their very rich supporters to do anything for the people. Wasting our money, giving us lip service and polytricking us in to believing their doing a good job under hard circumstances won't work. Crime, public accounts, jobs, destructive projects and an unwillingness to listen to the voters has taken a toll on us all. And in the name of our heavenly father we will organize to secure our country from careless misleaders that put others profits over the people. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Our current situation with the economy as it is and the rules we must adhere to under the UK, we have few options to turn the country around. 

    First, we must reduce spending dramatically.

    Second, we must stimulate on island business a soon as possible.

    Since reducing the Civil Service is near impossible we must put off all capital infrastruture until the economy turns around.  Stop all roads, schools and shelters that we have done without just fine until now.

    As for stimulating the local economy we should build the George Town port to bring immediate construction jobs and to help our tourism product once built.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you don't want UK to impose their rules. And if you don't want a government that is hasty in making decisions to boost the economy, but refuses to reduce its size and cut expenditures, then the only option left is – INDEPENDENCE!

    • Anonymous says:

      How can we put off all capital infrastructure until the economy turns around and build the George Town port? This makes no sense at all. The GT port would be part of the infrastructure!

  6. Annoyed? says:

    The Premier just loves to flip-flop and get everybody worked up. This is pure entertainment for UDP and a way to exhaust the Opposition's energy on one thing whilst they can do something else behind everybody's backs without being criticized.


  7. Anonymous says:

    The cayman government should focus its efforts on expanding/rebuilding infrastructure in the port in Georgetown and leave the other side of the Island alone. This philosophy should be promoted in other areas like rebuilding houses and neighborhoods so they don't degenerate into third world countries. Its simple, before you expand and potentially ruin any other part of the Island, fix first what is already ruined or insufficient.

  8. British Caymanian says:

    We have been told by tourists and the cruise ship companies alike that our tenders are no longer good enough and our tourism will cease!  

    Come on, we just need a long cement pier (like the ones in Mexico) and stop trying to build acres of dock space to carve up the overselling retail crap.  Just let the bloody boats land and the tourists enjoy our island.  Why are we making it so difficult?  No casinos, better taxis and tours = simple.

    This has stalled only because our greedy politicians cannot figure out how to line their pockets with construction contracts to buddies or kickbacks to cronies.

    Just build a SIMPLE dock for people to walk on, nothing more!  Once ashore, the retailers who have invested for the past twenty years can sell their wares.  If someone new wants to break into the market, there are now a LOT of empty retail space in George Town to rent.

    Just" google" and look at "images" for cruise ship docks in Mexico that Celebrity, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean use…..simple.  How MUCH would this really cost??  WHY can't our politicians just do the same and actually serve us as they were elected to do?  Throw the bums out!


    • Actually says:

      We are not trying to be like everybody else!

    • Anonymous says:

      If you build a birthing dock, we will have to change the rules and regulations that we have implemented in the Cayman Islands on Gambling and Casinos. You cannot just say that no Casinos, better taxis and happier guests = easy, because its been put into plain sight that cruiseships make most of their revenue in thier casinos. Cruiseships cannot have their casinos open in Cayman waters, resulting cruiseships departing early. Have you ever thought of that? what good would building just the dock do? would drain the minisucle budget that our government has without stimulating anything. The only way that cayman can profit from such investments would be to change those laws and allowing the cruiseships only to open their casinos in our waters. That would generate overnight revenues aswell as have happier tourists. This isnt easy, but can be done


      • JJTA says:

        We already have a birthing dock, it is called the maternity ward at the bloomin' hospital. You have however illuminated one of the ulterior motives involved here though. The last thing Cayman needs is casinos. These are the intricate misrepresentations, manipulations and insidious and dishonest forces playing havoc here though.

      • CaymanFisting says:

        I agree allowing gambling in cayman waters is a wise decision as it appears it will be some time before it is allowed to occur on the island. The only way for this to benefit the tourism industry would be to regulate it with time constraints. During the daytime hours when the tourists are enjoying the pristine beaches and everything else Cayman has to offer, do not allow gambling on the ships to occur. Once the shops/retail hours have ended allow the casinos on the ships to open. Ships will be more apt to now stay in port if they so choose. Those passangers that choose to partake in cayman nightlife instead of gambling on the ship will boost revenue as well

        • CC says:

          Cayman Fisting and other Casino supporters you are missing the issue here.  All cruise ships CLOSE their casinos wherever they dock, period.  It is not an offering when in port so it is not relevant for this issue.

          What IS relevant is that the cruise ships are passing us by because the cruiseers and cruise lines despise our tender system.

          It is difficult to get cruise ships with wheelchair passengers on tenders and if any of you have cruised on the high end ships (like I have) you will see a LOT of electronic "scooters"…so much so, I thought there would be a traffic cop on the ships!  The age of cruisers is not getting younger and disabled travel will become big business soon….is Cayman ready with wheelchair (scooter) ramps and the like?

          Not all passengers are in wheelchairs or scooters so don't get me wrong, but my own parents crusie a few times a year and are very fit (in their 70's)….and they despise our tenders and choose destinations that are not difficult to navigate (walking).

          Even fit people do not like our tenders.  They take too long, the lines are too long, the waves are not easy, and it is a pain.

          Build the simple pier please.


      • Just Sayin' says:

        If you build a "birthing dock", I assure you that Dr. Tomlinson is going to be pissed.

      • CC says:

        No, you misunderstood me 13:05.  I didn't say birthing or overnight docks, just simple piers to eliminate the tenders.  I've been on three cruises in the past two years and two of those stopped (on purpose) in Cayman.  The cruise companies and passengers will no longer TOLERATE tenders and that is what kills our destination.  

        I'm in the tourism business and took these trips to see what competition is out there.  I promise you that the casinos on these ships were pretty darn empty during the day so allowing gambling in port would not make one bit of a difference.  

        The ships will still leave by sunset to get to there next Western Caribbean port (our little stop is NOT going to change their itineraries)

        However, unless we make it easier for them to land here, they WILL pass us by, period.  

    • Andy Gord says:

      A frequent cruiser, I believe what this poster is saying is true.  Build a pier – any pier.  It would be great to have an impressive development along with it, but for cruisers, the real problem with Grand Cayman is the tendering involved.  For the poster that commented about ship casinos not be allowed to be open in Cayman waters, that is typical of all ports.  I don't think that should be a concern for cruise lines or for cruise passengers.  "Just let the bloody boats land and the tourists enjoy our island" sounds right to me.

  9. Annoyed? says:

    People, you may not all like what I say, but I believe this is all-out political bluff, a stunt by the Udp government to discourage those who are protesting against them to be in a state of bewilderment as to what happens next. This Primier is good at flip-flopping, and does so for a reason!

    We have to be strategic, because he may just remain silent for this entire year. And then you'll hear no more East End Port coming, but something else is happening right under our noses and we don't anything about it.

    Politrix I say

  10. Anonymous says:

    Someone asked on the radio this morning why Mac speaks out both sides of his mouth. On one hand the East End "Port" land owner has the right to do what he wants with his land. On the other hand, Mac is telling the Barker's land owner what to do with his.

    Truth be told, Mac is incredibly consistent. Even with this port to the Chinese. Its simple, he goes to bat for whoever he thinks will advance his status in life. The Hyatt, , First Cayman, The Ritz, Dart, now the Chinese. 

    As Captain B kept repeating on the radio about the North Sound dredging – ask yourself WHO benefits? 



  11. Fiction is stranger than truth says:

    Now that the environmental report is in on the damage that would be caused to the island I am hoping to soon see/hear an announcement from the premier that he care too much for this island to allow quarrying and dredging out of the ironshore at East End.  I am aghast that the Premier and his UDP star-gazers think so little of our beautiful little Island and are not willing to leave behind for posterity, a more significant legacy than a huge hole in the ground at the entrance of the picturesque district of East End. Is that what they want their children and  grand-children to look at when they remember them? Do the rest of want our children and grandchildren asking us why we did not do something to stop it. Every person on this island should rally up and let the UDP know that we are not going to allow this to happen. We are not prepared to wait and see, the impact study tells us all that we need to know.  After the hole is dug will be too late!!   I am suggesting to Arden that he and his committee get thousands of green ribbons printed with the words " No quarrying no dredging in East End"  or something similar and passs them out for a donation of CI$2.00 to raise funds to fight this in court if necessary. Start your fund raising now- everyone loves East End cooking – start cooking and selling – every dollar counts.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The headline should read :Anything government is doing is still in question and always will be.

  13. Anonymous says:

    this government stumbles from one embarrassment to another……

    when are the people going to stand up?

  14. Anonymous says:

    has this government ever met one of it's target dates?

    what about the motion of no -confidence?

    what about the governor and how he is supposed to ensure good governance?

    we need direct rule asap!