Bush wants support not criticism on cruise berthing

| 25/10/2011

(CNS): The latest arrival statistics from government have revealed that cruise arrivals continued the glooming decline in August and were down by almost 32% compared to last year. The anticipated fall in numbers reflects the decision by cruise lines to by-pass the Cayman Islands and head to ports of call with cruise berthing facilities. In the face of the continued drop in cruise visitors the premier said his government was wellaware of the need to develop facilities but asked critics to point the finger at those who have opposed his efforts to develop them and not at him. With the FCCA issuing a “final chance” to construct the piers Bush asked the sector to support him.

Blaming those who have opposed the developmentof cruise tourism as well as the previous administration for not continuing with the agreement Bush had signed with Misner Marine when he was last in office, the premier gave no details on current the status of the ongoing talks with China Harbour Engineering Company the latest company in line to take on the project. Government signed an MOU with the Bejing based firm in June which is due to expire next month. He said that government was working hard to secure the best deal possible but did not elaborate on the negotiations.

“I have started the process and I will get it done and I ask the tourism sector to support me with encouragement, rather than criticism,” he said in a statement released Monday afternoon. “If criticism on these low cruise arrival numbers has to be properly placed, and if persons are intent on pointing fingers, they should be pointing toward those who opposed me and stopped the initiatives I put in place, which, had they been left to come to fruition, would have been up and operating at this time.”

Bush said that he recently attended the FCCA conference where the cruise line executives “very pointedly iterated” cruise berthing was essential and if the Cayman Islands doesn’t have berthing facilities in place by March 2013 it will see s drastic reduction in numbers. With cruise companies planning to use only the new generation of mega cruise ships in the Caribbean and to send the smaller ships to other parts of the world, Cayman will be excluded from the cruise business, the premier stated.

“It was clearly evident that the cruise executives were giving us a final chance and were once again warning us – as they had done several years ago – that the Cayman Islands cruise tourism industry is in jeopardy,” Bush said of his recent meeting. He said the executives were encouraged by his assurances that Cayman will have at least one pier operational by 2013 and in the meantime more talks were planned to see how arrivals could be increased before the berthing facilities are finished.

Although the cruise statistics compared very poorly to the 2010 figures with just over 79,000 visitors in August 2011 against just under 116,000 last year, the story at Owen Roberts Airport was a very different one.

Those arriving in Cayman by air and staying overnight are continuing to increase and August showed close to a 5% increase on arrival figures compared to last year with 20,017 people flying into Grand Cayman in August 2011 compared to 19,097 in August 2011. This is part of a continuing trend of growth in air arrivals with the 2011 showing a 7.7% increase so far on 2010. Canada continues to be driving the number of arrivals joined this month by Europe where there was an increase of more than 30% from both regions.

See the premier’s full statement below

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  1. Anonymous says:

    There are two issues here:

    Do we need a cruise ship berth?

    Should the premier be allowed to pick, choose and refuse who builds it, without going through the due legal process and expose all of us to more lawsuits?

  2. A Canadian Tourist says:

    At least 50% of businesses in Georgetown would close without cruise ships. How about some real numbers?

  3. Chris says:

    Mac, there are way too many smart people in Cayman who are not fooled by your false statements.

    Reality check: You are not fooling all the people all of the time, you are only fooling yourself.

    The FCCA, the merchants, the UDP and even the PPM have all agreed that we need a cruise berthing facility in George Town and we need it now.

    What opposition are you talking about????

    GLF was giving us the best deal with the lowest price, lots of experience, strong financing and the shortest payback period.

    You, Mr. Premier messed that deal up singlehandedly claiming GLF didnt have the finances (which was proven to be untrue) and got Cayman sued in  the process!

    Its time for you to get with the program or get out of office.


    • Anonymous says:

      In terms of opposition I would think he is talking about the laternative plan being proposed for South Sound. The argument thus is not if we should have the cruise berthing but where.

      Either way elections soon come so what ever they are trying to do they better do quickly. Soon as the elections are finished and a new team is in they will start again from scratch and we will argue to point thay we are arguing now.

      such is the comedy called Government.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am going to state my position up front, I don't have any interest in tourism and I don't particularly like the disruption large swathes of cruise ship passengers bring, or the death of George Town and its morphing into one large jewellery shop.

    However, for the good of Cayman I would like someone to tell me what they bring in to the country in terms of dollars and cents. In other words what is their net benefit to everyone.

    I know a lot of this income will be skewed in favour of businesses in town but I have to think that at least some of that money will filter through in wages and into the local economy.

    So how much does Government make and how much does the private businesses make, and I would be interested in all those numbers including the associated costs, its a big ask but this sort of information is crucial in making economic decisions.

    If Government only get $10mio a year from Cruise tourism why spend $300 mio to defend it, if they get $400mio a year and are likely to lose half that, then what the frig are we waiting for, two finger piers in GT please!

  5. Anonymous says:

    The finger piers have to be built. The problem is not with the project itself, but the way that every Government plan to date has been aborted. No business or business person could behave in this way and survive.


    If you get this done Premier Bush, well and good, but if not, then the consequences will be dire, and you'll see George Town businesses implode over the next two years, with hundreds losing their jobs. Just seeing those piers being installed will energize the whole retail sector. Jus' git' er done! And don't pay attention to the thumbs-down on this one, they obviously don't have any stake in the retail sector, and don't realize that it's worth US$100 million a year, or thereabouts. (No, it's not just tee shirts and Chinese "Cayman" souveniers.)

  6. Anonymous says:

    PREMIER WANTS SUPPORT.  You had all the support that was needed, but your ego ATTITUDE had to do the unthinksble and cancelled the agrement with GLF.THIS EVEN CAUSE THE PORT AUTHORITY BOARD TO RESIGN.  you are a male that want to do as you please , and nobody can get in your way.   Now you gone a linked up with the china company that  will make all the money leavr the country, and they were going to do the port for less money and operate for less years.  one has to wonder why?  XXXX

  7. The Cat Boat Man says:

    It is great to see all this objection to the Government's finger pier plans in Hog Sty Bay. Clearly Red Bay is the place to put it and it is good to see most agree GT is not suitble. A central theme is the outlay of money by government for GT. I agree. The Red Bay solution is much less costly to the Country to build in the shallow water and the fill pays for alot of it anyhow.

    FCCA want a safe and reliable harbour for their ships. They have said that for 35 years now and have started to bypass Cayman. Even the puniest little Caribbean Island has a dock to accept them. We are in the dark ages here because of politics.

    Lets get it built finally but do it properly.


  8. Anonymous says:

    I thought the quote from Mac in yesterdays Compass meant that the Martians were next up to build the port. "And so, once it’s done, it could be a Martian done it, once it’s done and done good, I don’t care. I want it done …"

    I guess the Chinese are out now.

  9. B.B.L. Brown says:

    Am I the only one who hates the gridlock associated with the cruise ships?  I am aware that a lot of people make money selling items to the tourists (and a lot of it is just junk), but it just isn't worth it.  Boost tourism with package deals where tourists can stay a while and really enjoy our islands.  We have a lot to offer….. and cruise line passengers don't have the time to enjoy it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I refuse to support anything on Mr. Bush's terms.  He is as incapable of negotiating this in the best interests of the country as he was with the Cohen financing.  Afterwards he can say "well I'm no engineer but ……"

  11. Anonymous says:

    To all the bright sparks that think Cruise shippers are not worth the effort.

    For many years MANY Caymanians have done very well from the cruise ship trade, and I am sure that if someone got off a cruise ship and enjoyed their time here that they may well decide to come back and stay for a week or two. However because of the cattle trucking, hawking experience they are subjected to, I very much doubt if they will ever return.

    It is well beyond time that the Government build a cruise ship terminal that is tourist friendly and allows them to disembark in a safe manner at their will.

    Why was the dock not extended when they were building Royal Watler Terminal and all the equipment was here??????????


    • Anonymous says:

      Logic based on a simple fallacy.

      There's absolutely no evidence that cruise shippers turn into stayover visitors. In fact quite the opposite, they cruise because they don't want the hassle of hotel-based vacations.

      Cruise shippers visit a resort, think 'been there, done that' and start looking for other destinations. Just check out the current cruise schedules and the way the industry has expanded out of the Caribean.

      The harsh reality is that reliance on the cruise ships has killed real tourism in Cayman because on such a small island the two are not mutually compatible. You build the dock, you better start closing what hotels are still left on the island and laying off all the staff because the stayover industry will die.

  12. Anonymous says:

    It seems that the wrong people are making decisions that affect Caymanians and the future of Cayman . The recycled politicans , the job for life Caymanians are just siting back and doing NOTHING . Why should the world care what happens here when the locals accept the worst leadership ever . Both parties are to blame – we are all Caymanians . Where are the people who made millions over the years because they could be a Cayman partner and collect but still do nothing ? Are they ashamed the way the counrty is being run . SPEAK UP  and do something . It is obvious that the status qo is going no where . Where are the SMART Caymanians to help and offer good business sense to the country . They have done NOTHING concrete to help but bitch and moan and look elsewhere but their own backyard . We loose cruiseships, we loose much more . Our reputation as a place to visit , a place to do business . People can put their money in much more hospitable locals and reap the same benifits .

    If you are happy with bringing this country down ,and it is going down, stay the course that is being followed and hang your head as a Caymanian because in all honesty what is there to be proud of in the last years .  

  13. Anonymous says:

    There are only 7 cruise ships in the world with a capacity over 150,000 GT, and only 4 that carry more than 4500 people, and in that universe we are talking almost exclusively about one liner, Royal Caribbean International.  All planned newbuild ships are much smaller (and indeed those are not fully paid for):

    Newbuild to be delivered in 2012 (all under 4000 person capacity – most not destined for this part of the world):  AIDALuna, AmaCerto, Queen of the Mississippi, Avalon Vista, Avalon Visionary, Avalon Angkor, Celebrity Reflection, Carnival Breeze, Costa Fascinosa, Disney Fantasy, Oceania Riviera, River Saigon, Viking Freya, Viking Idun, Viking Njord, Viking Odin, Viking Embla, Viking Aegir, Discovery II 

    So when we are talking about the port facility, know that we are talking about accomodating Royal Caribbean.  There are alot of other liners that still have Cayman on their itineraries (even if the ships are not full).  http://www.caymanport.com/shipschedules.php

    It is factually inaccurate for anyone to suggest that cruise tourism has or will cease without a dock.  All that is really missing this year is Royal Caribbean, and in fact their other brand "Celebrity" still calls here regularly.

    • Anonymous says:

      We were cruising with Cunard several weeks and I met the Commodore in the coffee shop, told him where we were living. He said he'd love to get the vessel, crew and guests into Cayman. The current problem is he can't justify burning fuel all day to keep the vessel on anchor.  He's heard about the proposed berthing and is looking forward to seeing the plans develop.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class MUST berth however the entire FCCA fleet now berths in the Caribbean. Only in Cayman we risk their lives in a plywood boat on the edge of a big, deep drop off.

      FCCA says they no longer need Cayman. They are now correct. They have newRotan, Ochi Rios (#1 cruise port winner this year), Falmouth(which will win next year for sure, it is spectacular),  Labadee, Bahamas, Belise, Turks, even Cuba shortly ( it is now taking cruises- only time for the Americans to roll back into town) etc.  

      Our duty free shopping and rum cakes are actually sold on board now- no need to stop for those anymore. The only thing we can say we have left is  "stingray city' and even that is now down 50% in bookings of the ships. Smiling Caymanians, gone. Clean island, going. Crime free, gone. Banking, going. What do we have??..oh yes a puny craftmarket selling 'made in china" stuff and fake Rasta tams ( yep, also made in China)..( almost forgot the now commonly found seasalt)

      The cruise companies are going to the Far East ( they, like all businesses follow the money) but the US market will return. The Caribbean's only competition from the US is Hawaii and it is too far away. So the region is here to stay, techtonically and otherwise.

      So who do you believe will blink first? Royal Caribbean? Carnival? FCCA? Or has that already happended and its Cayman that got hit between the eyes.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Please inform us as to the payment to you from Stan Thomas

  15. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone thought that perhaps our air arrivals are up simply because they can now enjoy a better experience with less cruise passengers in George Town?

    Tourists arriving by air are the backbone to our tourism industry, NOT cruise passengers who buy a t-shirt and a burger and leave!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Air arrivals are up only because of WESTJet from Canada. The increase in Tourists neatly matches the arrivals from Canada.

      Canada did not feel the full impact of the world recession and thus they currently have more spending money. Their dollar is also at an all time high against the US$.

      Nothing to do with cruise.

      • Hmmmmmm says:

        If that is really the reason for the increase in stayover tourism, then the govt should make the revamp of the airport a priority and scrap the port idea.  Make the runway the specifications it needs to facilitate larger planes from Europe.  Even direct flights from South America would be nice. 

        Let's make Cayman the next 'anywhere town' and have direct flights from los angeles! Direct flights from london! Then allow flights to South America directly.  Cayman could make money just by becoming an international airport and bypassing miami!  Do you realise how much money Cayman could make?  Does govt realise that people that do not have an american visa would love this idea?!  They can make their way to Europe without going to the US….


        Hmmmmm……I've just given out more free advice.  Govt pls take this idea and run with it!

        • anonymous says:

          They got this advice from the Investment Council over a year ago. I understand that the CIAA is developing plans as we speak. And Mac has signed a MOU with the Canadians to do it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Over fed, newly wed and nearly dead.

      Lucky if they buy the burger and t-shirt from what I've seen.

      They come ashore, take a few photos to show they visited then head back to the boat for the free food and aircon. These people are not tourists, they are island hoppers most of whom don't appreciate or understand what is on offer.

      Grand Cayman a simple message – you don't need them!


  16. Well says:

    There are a lot of things Bush wants that he cannot get eg. re-elected

    • Anonymous says:

      yep…but what will be left of the cayman islands in 2013 if we wait that long…. cayman is dying bit by bit. everyday……

      if only we a real governor….who was interested in good governence….

      • Anonymous says:

        How much do you think it will cost to construct the pier and finance that debt over many decades, versus the benefit of the re-addition of one or two missing Royal Caribbean boats that are not fully occupied anyway?


  17. Anonymous says:

    Mr Premier prove to us that the cruise berth will actually attract more visitors and you will get support.

    This is putting cart before the horse. What businessman in their right mind would make such a massive investment without first checking that they actually have a solid, long-term customer base to support the project in the foreseeable future?

    Right now there is absolutely no committment from the cruise lines to increase arrivals if this facility is built.

    Why, at no stage in this fiasco, has anyone sat down with the major cruise lines and sought their direct financial involvement in this? After all they are the ones who should profit the most from it. I'll tell you why – because you won't get it nor will you get any increase in arrivals if the berth is built.

  18. Anonymous says:

    If Mac wants support then he needs to come up with an idea that will benfit the Islands .. a cruise birth will not. It will cost the islands dearly.

    Ever been on a cruise? it takes you more time to walk to the end of a pier than the tenders take to bring people in … it is of no benefit to guests.

    It does line some peoples pockets in the short term, and also give the cruise employees an easier day.


    But we will loose money due to the amount of tours that will go .. the ones that thrive off Hog Sty Bay in the water and on the land. The reef and wrecks will be gone and the town will be by passed for the shops on the pier. Restaurants forget it .. there is free food on board.


    Now if we do what we did back in the day and push this island as an exclusive stay over destination we will reap in the benefits from $20 a person per day to $80,


    Lets fill up the rooms and fill up all the businesses. Fly them in !!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think you have ever been on a cruise – it takes 5-10mins to get off and on. No hassle of waiting in long lines in the hot sun. It’s a great experience compared to tenders.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh please….this has been an ongoing problems for years and with our Premier in office.  The cruise ships ketp saying they were going to pull out if things didn't improve….this has been said over the years, now the premier äs usual is blaming everyone for his mistakes.  Like everything else government waits the last minute and then doesn't know how to fix it.  By next year they will be down 75%. 

  19. AnonymousSick and Tired of the B...S... says:

    What Bush and Cayman has to accept is that our cruise ship business may be gone “FOREVER”, and that many downtown Duty Free businesses are “dead in the water”. Look at the awards recently given for Caribbean destinations and particularly those for cruise destinations. On the basis that cruise ship companies plan their itineraries 3/4 years ahead, even if we could provide “instant” docking facilities, we would not see any improvement in cruise ship passenger arrivals until 2014/2015. There could be a lot of empty downtown retail space in the near future.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The premier needs the support to get this done.  All this time wasting with a couple of pipe dream busness men trying to move things to South Sound so they jackpot their development!  We need to stop messing around and get the first pier built.  Too many jobs lost, too many businesses hurt.  Keep moving forward Big Mac, you have my support!

  21. Dred says:

    Well you mess that whole thing up.

    Maybe you should just start over and do things right and then it would have the peoples support XXXXX. Until you start doing things by the books we will never support your actions.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Same s**t from the Premier:  NO EXPLANATION ON WHY HIS OWN DAMN PLANS ARE GOING NOWHERE… just more blame on others.

    McKeeva Bush is a crybaby.  Man up, punkin, and quit talking about doing stuff and effing DO IT!!!


  23. Anonymous says:

    I suspect that just possibly, maybe, perhaps the reason that the cruise berthing pier might possibly, perhaps, maybe, with a pinch of suspicion be delayed is that the chief negotiator, who might just maybe possibly be no financial expert but who can calculate to the penny the amount of 10 or 15 per cent of every significant deal on the good ship Cayman might possibly be fishing for ….

  24. Anonymous says:

    always blaming others…….mac, you are the one who has failed on this and many other issues for the last 2 1/2 years!…….resign!