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Opinions & Editorial 20 Dec, 2023 Follow News


There’s a gradual but noticeable shift in Cayman’s cruise visitor sector.

The undeniable popularity of the destination as a top-quality port of call can be seen in the long-standing inclusion of Cayman on the cruise itinerary of the major cruise lines.

This is despite Cayman being one of the few ports of call in the region without cruise pier berthing facilities.

 A glance at the Caymanian Times weekly cruise ship schedule (published on Fridays on page 6) shows the continuing attraction with cruise vessels dropping anchor in the Port of George Town daily Monday to Saturday.

It’s also not unusual to see ships in port on Sundays despite shops and restaurants required by law to be closed on the religious ‘day of rest’.

That and the absence of a cruise ship pier have gradually been creeping back into the public’s consciousness in the wake (pardon the pun) of a suggestion by Hon. Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan.

Speaking during the recent Budget Debate, Mr Bryan firmly put the cruise sector issue back on the front burner with the suggestion of a referendum next year to once and for all settle the matter of a cruise pier for Cayman. By his reckoning, it does not have to be in Port George Town.

A previous attempt to site a cruise pier in the capital ran into a storm of environmental protests and into the courts over the risk of damage to the delicate coral ecosystem in the port.

While that might have thrown cold water on the cruise pier idea, it appears that Mr Bryan is throwing cold water in a bid to revive the issue

But, might views towards a cruise pier - somewhere - be less entrenched next year than they were at the height of the previous controversy surrounding the cruise pier idea?

That’s left to be seen.

Major cruise lines which call at Cayman have already signalled that with larger cruise ships coming ‘on stream’, Cayman’s lack of a cruise pier will most likely result in it being bypassed as tendering cuts passenger shore time - and visitor ‘spend time’ - by up to two hours. That adds up to an economic loss for Cayman.

This is the balance that needs to be struck between economic viability and environmental sustainability.

With a quiet but noticeable acceptance of cruise ship calls on national rest days, including Christmas Day, the window seems slightly open to an environment of carefully considered and mutually beneficial compromises.

It needs to be delicately handled…just like Cayman’s pristine and delicate coral ecosystem.

In this instance, careful, thoughtful, and extensive public consultation seems to be the way forward.

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