Tourism minister heads to Miami for cruise line meet

| 10/07/2013

miamicruiseport2 (214x300).jpg(CNS): The deputy premier and the PPM’s tourism councillor are headed for Miami to meet with cruise stakeholders for talks on Cayman’s port development. In the wake of the numerous controversies surrounding the proposed cruise berthing development in George Town during the UDP administration, DP Moses Kirkconnell, who is the new tourism minister, has picked up the process which was placed back on track by the interim PNA minister Cline Glidden. With the new government having presided over the selection of PricewaterhousCoopers to prepare the business plan, following a competitive bid, the deputy premier said government needed to maintain the momentum with the cruise lines.

Kirkconnell is set to meet with FCCA officials and cruise line executives in Miami to continue talks. He will be accompanied by government back-bencher Joey Hew, who is working as a tourism councillor, and Chief Officer Stran Bodden, who has been overseeing the return to a proper procurement process after some four years of failed talks with three different developers.

The new tourism minister is expected to meet with representatives from Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise lines, the three main companies cruising the Caribbean, for intensive discussions on the way forward regarding the cruise berthing project and to encourage the cruise lines to keep Cayman on the schedules until the project is complete, according to a release from the ministry Wednesday,

“The Cayman Islands is still a highly sought after destination by cruise passengers but our lack of facilities and inability to provide a top-quality and seamless disembarkation experience continues to place us at serious disadvantage with the cruise lines,” said Kirkconnell, adding that, as a consequence, cruise officials were increasingly excluding the Cayman Islands from their schedules.

“We have known for several years that existing infrastructure is grossly inadequate to service the changing needs of the industry and having a clear understanding of these important stakeholders’ views is vitally important,” he said. “While this government takes the appropriate steps which will lead to the construction of the piers, I am hopeful that discussions with the key players will lead to the identification and agreement of strategies which will increase the quota of passengers to the Cayman Islands in the short to medium term,” the minister added.

The latest statistics from the tourism department confirm that cruise arrival numbers are falling to record lows. Just over 76,000 people came to the Cayman Islands via cruise ship this May, one of the lowest ever monthly figures since records began.

However, the prospect of cruise berthing facilities was given a boost earlier this month when government signed the financial services consultancy contract with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) on 2 July, following a transparent bidding process. Following that important step forward, the deputy premier said meetings with the FCCA would also serve as the precursor to PwC subsequently meeting with the individual cruise lines to ascertain the specific needs and requirements of this important stakeholder group.

Critical to the growth and sustainability of the cruise industry, the piers are also expected to deliver significant commercial benefits, including employment opportunities and increased economic activity derived from higher visitor numbers.

“With cruise lines typically formalising their itinerary schedules up to two years in advance, it is imperative that plans move ahead swiftly so that our Islands can be included in the schedules for 2015,” Kirkconnell said.

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Category: Politics

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Does the minister remember several years after Ivan — when 9,000 or more people came in on the cruise ships– on those days– how much people complained about the overcrowding –now we're talking about mega ships with 1 holding 5,000 to 7000 cruisers– plus the smaller ships in port at the same time??? my biggest worry is the possible damage to the eco system –and i'm not a diver — mess up the reef areas — won't have to worry about ships 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Oh please which 2 major cruise lines is not wanting to come back here? 

  3. Rock Iguana says:

    Two points
    We know that any dock scheme will be sold to the public on the basis that it will be paid for by a fee placed on the cruise passengers. We also know that the projections will be wildly optimistic and the taxpaying public will be left holding the bag since there will be a govt guarantee involved. Certainly the Florida cruise bunch won’t be paying for it. I would suggest that Gerry, Renard, John and Ken put up the funding as the dock is intended primarily to facilitate their businesses.

    2. If we go down this road, the dock should be limited to a narrow pier on pilings of the type built in other islands. That is all they have done at Grand Turk for example. Keep it as simple and non-intrusive as possible. And make sure there is a proper EIA before a single yard of cement is poured.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You know, just like was proclaimed years ago when it was said that the turtle farm needed improvement and all these grandiose schemes were dreamed up about what its customers wanted and how it would be so nice that people would be willing to pay $100 per person to experience it, but alas it didn't happen and so it seems to be with the cruise docking facilities; the panacea for declining cruise numbers is to build docks so cruise vessels can berth. Now that is all fine and dandy, but at what cost?  Will the cost of financing, building, running and maintaining it result in such a high tax to the cruise passenger, that the cruise lines then say yes, you have piers, but our customers cannot afford the tax so we can no longer call Grand Cayman! 

    Have you guys looked at the cruise business in Cozumel, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Antigua and elsewhere in this region?  It's the same trend that we have been experiencing and they have piers!  Have you looked at Cayman's figures for next year (2014) and the year after (2015)?  Go to Caymanport.com and see for yourself.  There are no piers, but the figures are up.  Have you checked Jamaica?  Their figures for 2014 and 2015 are up also.

    If you ask the cruise passengers, the vast majority are happy with tendering.  It is a unique part of the visit to Cayman.  Those who have an issue with it usually have a mobility issue.  Have you thought of ways that that could be addressed if the cost of building berthing piers prove too expensive?  Or, why not let private enterprise finance, build, run and maintain the piers to standards set by government.  They could afford to stretch the payback of it over a much longer period in order to make their investment and a profit back from it.

    I'd rather see government focus on reducing our national debt than get us into more debt.  God knows we cannot suffer another Turtle Farm, Pedro Castle, failed financing deal, or failed Port Project deal.  The cruise lines are going to call Grand Cayman as long as there is money to be made and we remain a safe and strongly appealing place to visit.  If docks are viable, let private enterprise prevail.

    • Anonymous says:

      It was reported that the business case for the piers is being analysed by objective professioinals (PWC), who are trained to review all aspects of the business opportunity.  As it stands now the only party benefiting from the lack of a proper berthing peirs are the private owners of the tenders. As a Caymanian I look forward to PWC's analysis, and I commend Mr. Kirkconnell for proactively meeting with the cruise operators to establish a relationship.  With or without the piers, we need to have a good working relationship with them.

    • Jonas Dwyer says:

      THere will always be nay sayers and supporters of issues, and in particular pier versus tendering.  THe fact is that there have been no formal surveys either by our Government of the Cruise Ship on this subject as it pertains to teh Cayman Islands.  I personally have had cruise experience where on mention of Cayman the question i why are there no piers? Now in order to determine whether it is a proposition that we need to enter to, there is the BUsiness Case that is being done by a Firm who should know how to conduct a proper Case and sghow not only the viabilty because anything can be made to llok viable if you play with the figures long enough, but the feasibility of the piers in terms of our pay back quotient is the singlemost aspect that needs to be determined.  If reduced passengers are foresen then the feasibilty begins to go south, if surveys show that people will not come because of tendering , yet another black mark, interest rate too high or too long a period to pay back and so on and so on. Tendering can be made much more efficient, with proper stabilizers on the vesselsand enhancements to the present piers could probably be made to ensure further safey of passengers weh loading or off loading, If the latter can be done and we can do some effective marketing on this then the only real issue that we have is the Spots Landing which needs to be taken into the equation as well fro inclement weather in George town.  again the extension of the pier, deeper water and retrofitting of the age old tenderes may be part of the solution.

      It is thgerfore important that before we all go off on these hallucinatory tangents that a full examination of all possibilities be completed and made public.  It is only then that we the people will see how viable, how feasible the project will be and then we can determine if the country can or cannot afford to continue with enhancements to our facilities or remain at least in ne apect the Islands that Cruisers left off.

      • No Tenders says:

        Sorry, the new ships are not built to use tenders, period.  The age of cruisers do not want tenders.  Case closed and those in the tender business (you) will be out of business soon.  Times have changed and that is the cruise industry fact.

        • wayasay says:

          TO NO TENDERS, that is the silliest comment I have ever seen put forward, as the reason we HAVE to build a cruise dock. You only need to design a tender that enbarks and disembarks at the same level as the dock and it will automatically be at the right hight for both the mega cruise ship, the smaller ones and the dock.Pray tell, if this is not so, then how in the hell will the mega ship passengers get down to the level of the pier when it is docked? In other words the same tenders that are used for the smaller ships can be used for the Mega ships, simply because the "mega ships" have to dock at the same piers as the smaller ones and are designed to do just that. No more garbage excused for Moses and the PPM to spend hundreds of millions of our funds. This is the most flawed excuse of all. (sorry about long paragraphs but CNS will not allow me to use my return key)

          • Anonymous says:

            The reason for no tenders is to give the tourist more time on shore to work with and to encourage just about all tourist on the cruise ship to come ashore. You go and check those tourist that come on shore and they might not have a problem with tendering but what about all those that stayed on the boat as to avoid the hassle.

            Your comments reek of someone thinking about his own pay day and not of one thinking in the best interest of the country and the tourist who come here.

          • Diogenes says:

            The issue is the time taken to load people onto a tender, transfer them and off load them, and the waiting time for other paasengers awaiting their tender slot, as opposed to let them walk down a gangway.  The height has nothing to do with it.

    • The Thinker says:

      That's telling it like it is, Anonymous 11:12!  There's been too much money spent on ideas that were not plausible.  When I've been on cruises it didn't matter whether we had a big fancy dock or went ashore on tenders.  Big docks don't pull in tourists.  It's what they find ashore!  You could build the finest dock in existence on Podunk Island and it will still be Podunk, and visitors would have no reason to come.  Tourists don't travel to see docks.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It's a smart business move to initiate discussions with the cruise lines from now since they set their schedules years in advance.  Mr. Kirkconnell is wise to open the lines of communication and begin to build the working partnerships.

  6. Caymanian Concern says:

    Good luck Moses.  The cruise lines offered to build piers for us years ago (Like Roatan) and our greedy politicians refused as they could not see how this would line their pockets.  It is not about fueling personal  or capital interests, it is about offering a "good tourism product".  There can be a balance if the cruise lines offer to help fund "some" of the costs. 

    Please forget about buiding mega shopping malls in George Town connected to a pier.  On-island retail is gone.  The ships offer ALL duty free shopping, art work, spa, jewelry, watches, etc….retail is dead, new tours and culture are sought after.

    I BEG you to take a Norwegian or Celebrity cruise to see for yourself!!! How can you decide about the Ministry without seeing the industry changes?  (I do not say Carnival as they are low end and will always stop here)  Moses, maybe you went on a cruise 10 years ago, things have CHANGED!  TOURS have changed!  Customer Service has changed!  Try the new "Solstice" class and get in touch with what the 10 million cruise visitors are looking for!  Forget advisors, you owe it to us (out of your own pocket please) to go on a cruise and see for yourself.

     

  7. Anonymous says:

    And they travelled business class!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think he's going to come back disappointed. At least two of the major cruise lines have already written the Cayman Islands out of their Caribbean schedules and more look set to follow. It's nothing to do with the cruise berth, this is simply geography and fuel costs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let's just wait and see …  I have faith in our elected representatives and their commitment to do what's right.

  9. Whodatis says:

    Ok … so suddenly we are all okay with the assumption that the cruise berthing project is going ahead.

    Interesting.

    Had the UDP still been in power this post would have been awash with criticism – and we all know it.

    Well PPM, enjoy the free pass while it lasts – you have no excuse to not get things done seeing that you are the new wonderkid that can do no wrong.

    As for me, I look forward to the findings of a thorough EIA report, especially as they concern our local dive sites and potential impact on Seven Mile Beach – same as I did when the UDP was in power.

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course I would have a problem with, and start criticising, ANY project that udp are involved with.

       

      Wouldn't you?

      • Whodatis says:

        That is all fine and dandy – you have that right.

        However, that is not the issue at hand.

        In fact, that approach is flirting with political politricks to its worst possible level.

        Our focus must be on what is in the best interest of the Cayman Islands at all times – regardless of which political party forms the government.

        • Anonymous says:

          True, but it is a given that if it is by the UDP it will not be in the best interests of Cayman but someone else's best interests.

        • Anonymous says:

          I agree with your first and last lines

  10. anon. says:

    Cruise lines may be able to give some hints to our reps as to how to pay our foreign workers even less. Chamber should be pleased. Finally! A government that will make them richer and us poorer! Yay! Trickle down economics have arrived!

  11. Anonymous says:

    The cruise port is only an idea, so to the extent that anything is on track with that is hardly Earth-shattering. Let’s see who is willing to pay for what and when before we start congratulating each other over nothing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Good luck on your trip Capt Mose, the right man for the job. I am so happy that all my hard work has paid off.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone tell me why any cruise ship passenger would want to get off the ship in Cayman nowadays? 30 years ago you could open a bank account in half an hour which lots of passengers liked (there was only a handful in those blessed days) even though it was a silly thing to do and the place was quiet and laid back. That is why we got people buying land and building retirement homes. No more. Development and the gunmen have done for that. In my once pleasant area, feral dogs, wrecked cars/ unused containers/broken down jet skis/ boats that will never float again belonging toJamaicans and Caymanians (sadly) have ruined quality of life and property values. What is it about some people that they can live with this sh$t and tied up dogs barking in their yards 24/7? And before you get after me for "racist" comments, please name for me developments that have been ruined in this way by Canadians, Americans or British.

    • Anonymous says:

      Didnt you find it good when you first came here? So if you say yes then we have the answer. Because we let so many people in we are flooded with all type of people who has ruined our good Country. Just imagine how we the locals feel about it. I can remember when ganja was first introduced to our Caymanian boys.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you remember when ganja was first introduced to Cayman, you must be very old. It was first brought to Jamiaca and Trinidad in the late1830's. I doubt it took 175 yrs. for innocent Caymanian boys to be lured to the devil-weed by wicked foreigners. 

        • Anonymous says:

          The late 1960's ganga was brought in by who??  They were given a slap on the wrists and set free to bring more from Where?  I guess one of the districts.

      • Anonymous says:

        I just wish our Caymanian boys had had the will power and commonsense not to accept the ganja. I'm sure it was not forced on them.

      • SSM345 says:

        Was that the "Coffin Herb"?

    • Whodatis says:

      Re: "And before you get after me for "racist" comments, please name for me developments that have been ruined in this way by Canadians, Americans or British."

      Hmmm … honestly, I cannot name any developments – not in Cayman anyway. However, on my travels through those countries I have seen MANY developments that have been ruined in this way … presumably by its nationals.

      In regards to ruined industries in Cayman, I could name you a few Canadians, Americans and Brits that seem intent on ruining our financial industry by way of fraud, corruption and theft to the tune of millions of dollars at a time.

      Similar to yourself – not being racist … just saying.

       

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, Whodatis, agreed but I was talking about our communities here in Cayman and you acknowledged my point. Let me acknowledge one of yours: Yes, some of these nationalities have committed pretty nasty criminal acts of fraud. But they haven't mashed up the neighbourhoods they live in. That was my only point.

        • Whodatis says:

          Poster, you took the indefensible road of attributing nasty and littering behaviour to particular nationalities / races.

          In reality, it is more likely a symptom of the socioeconomic level of the community in question – regardless of nation, race or region.

          I suggest you re-examine your mindest.

          Re: "Yes, some of these nationalities have committed pretty nasty criminal acts of fraud. But they haven't mashed up the neighbourhoods they live in."

          At this point I don't know whether to laugh or holler.

          Nevertheless, I will pretend as if this debate is still worthy of serious attention and say; both acts run the risk of damaging or most crucial industries.

          *Btw, you know of Jamaicans with broken down jet skis and boats?!

          (Humph) … must be a new buoyant breed, lol! (I know, I know … that was wrong!)

          • Anonymous says:

            What is it about a particular socioeconomic level in a community that makes it susceptible to trashing and nastying up itself, Whodatis? Let's hear some sociology 101 from you, bobo.

            • Whodatis says:

              If you honestly require further elaboration I doubt it will be of much help to you.

              Therefore, we politely reject your request.

          • Anonymous says:

            Good to see that Dr WHOdatis, the politico-socioeconomic commentator is back in fine form.

          • Anonymous says:

            "I suggest you re-examine your mindset" (Whodatis 7/11/13).

            "Physician heal thyself" (Luke 4:23).

      • Anonymass says:

        Boy, you know you had it coming when Whodatis puts you in your place. 🙂

      • My little world! says:

        Start by the hotel / bar in Barkers AKA Spanish Bay Reef once the most acclaimed place for it’s diving, photo expertize and fine meals. Destroyed by Americans at least JA also. Not many Caymanians there, maybee barmaid and groundskeeper. .

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe people want to buy a pirate t-shirt.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with your comment and will enlarge on it.  If the Environmental Department was doing its job, we would not have the untidy situation to deal with in our neighbourhoods.  Where ever you live and you happen to have a number of one specific group of people, you are going to have old cars and litter strown around  yards and the roadside.

      It is time for yard inspections and fines for unkept properties.  We import poverty and as a result, untidy surrondings.  Keep Cayman clean, leave your bad collection habits back home.