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Cayman’s Port, Caymanian’s Problem!!

Community Voice 03 Oct, 2018 Follow News

Cayman’s Port, Caymanian’s Problem!!

By A Concerned Caymanian

 

Sitting back watching this debate take place over what feels like a lifetime has been interesting. As a youth we heard of Cruise and Cargo solutions that were touted before we were born and how they would have affected us and the environment. Having witnessed the Royal Watler expansion and seeing the benefits it had to processing our Cruise passengers it was pleasing, progress, advancement, enhancement keeping in sync finally with the rest of our islands quadrupling in population over the last 40 years.

 

Standing back now and taking it all into account and realizing we have again expanded our cargo processing abilities at our Port Authority facility to manage up to four times the cargo I am now wondering when we will ever address improving the port’s docking facilities.

 

As a business owner and Caymanian citizen, I am all too aware of our reliance on our cargo facilities and yet we seem to be sitting back saying that something we built 40 years ago is adequate… A facility that is the lifeblood of our country is also a bottle neck and a good reason for our sustained higher costs of living.

 

As a business owner and Caymanian citizen, I am all too aware of our reliance on our cargo facilities and yet we seem to be sitting back saying that something we built 40 years ago is adequate… A facility that is the lifeblood of our country is also a bottle neck and a good reason for our sustained higher costs of living.

 

As a business owner and Caymanian citizen, I am all too aware of our reliance on our cargo facilities and yet we seem to be sitting back saying that something we built 40 years ago is adequate… A facility that is the lifeblood of our country is also a bottle neck and a good reason for our sustained higher costs of living.

 

Now at 20% of the total budget the cargo facility is a mere fraction of the whole but it is ever so needed. We pull the trigger on the airport renovation only to criticize, the design, the size, the lack of jet ways, the inconvenience we citizens will face being rained on as we embark and disembark, albeit for 2-3min.

 

But we did it, we as Caymanian’s paid for our Airport expansion, some $57-60 Million, out of our pocket, out of a surplus that frugal management of our country created.

 

Will we ever have Jet Ways? Of course!!

 

Will we ever have an extended runway to cater to international long-haul flights? Of course!!

 

Why not now? Why even consider a Sea Port while we seemingly neglect the fact that the heat and rain will be a factor of our most valuable fly-in tourists and of course ourselves every time we take a trip?

 

Take a cruise! So over a half a million visitors use our airports and need to be catered to, so we expand and enhance our airport, but over 1.5 million visitors use our seaport. Are we saying a 40 year old port is adequate? Yes the Royal Watler was an enhancement but it was a small step in taking care of a much larger problem.

 

I experienced first-hand the necessity of the port when my family and I visited Grand Cayman by Cruise on the Norwegian Escape recently. The Escape is Norwegians largest ship. Getting off was easy enough. A specified, tight schedule was given for when different groups could disembark the ship and start enjoying the island. We had perfect weather, and as able-bodied persons we were able to navigate on and off the tenders. Getting back on, however, is where the inadequacies of our facilities became very real to me. After waiting in line under the beaming Caribbean sun for an hour and a half with my wife, kids and in-laws to get from the port gate to the ferry, there was no doubt in my mind that the upgrade to the port is not a luxury but a necessity to ensure repeat visitors. Not comparable to the 2 minutes in the hot sun getting on and off Cayman Airways. What was comforting, was as we waited in line I could overhear only positive comments about our lovely island and how many would be returning. Sweating to death were families around us discussing the amazing time they each had that day!

 

These vessels by design introduce millions of tourists to exotic locals globally every year, the best of those experiences generate fly in tourism at each and every stop. They feed each other. A cruise is a small sampling of a territory, a dip in to something new while being wined and dined at sea on a beautiful ship.

 

We constantly hear that “fly in as the only thing we need”, but we forget the symbiotic relationship Cruise and Stayover tourism have.

 

The port by design will allow us to limit ourselves to four ships per day and plan a better week by spreading the ships visiting throughout the week. Instead of an overload of too many ships visiting on the same days we need to encourage the cruise lines to seek berthing and adjust sailing to allow a premium experience.

 

• The ships save on fuel while at dock, less emissions means we are saving our environment and improving our air quality while improving the cruise lines profit, win-win.

 

• No tendering means the same, no fuel burning to move passengers to and from the ship.

 

• No anchoring means we are not destroying our sea floor every time a ship uses tenders.

 

• Spreading the load means we reduce overcrowding island wide.

 

• Elongating ships stays and increasing passenger saturation on shore allows more time to tour the entire island, more prosperity to our outer districts and our Taxi and Tour Operators that take them.

 

• Safety in docking means that weekly accidents between ships, tenders and our most valuable visitors will be minimized.

 

• Higher quality experience, highest quality cruise customers that sail the best ships and adding time on the ground for those guests to have a more authentic, less rushed visit.

 

• We have the infrastructure but we also have plans to enhance our islands infrastructure as we can, a pedestrian only assignment to streets in George Town without cars would be an amazing experience as is our Airport plan now and into the future.

 

 

The environmental effects have been studied, analyzed, and studied some more. Will building a port hurt the environment? Without a doubt construction of any kind will have an impact on the site. However, all measures will be made to mitigate and eliminate as many harmful aspects as possible during the construction phase. The new dock will also reduce the amount of adverse environmental impact through the elimination of anchoring and idling of sitting ships. Impacting a currently barren sea floor to build the piers and avoid the daily sweeping of anchors and millions of gallons annually of burned fuel into the atmosphere seems like a positive trade. Will the port affect the Seven Mile Beach, South Sound, George Town water clarity and water flow? Again, the studies say no.

 

Simple economics: a Royal Caribbean Freedom Class Ship serves the Western Caribbean corridor currently with 3000 passengers per voyage and has an average spend of $1000 per person per week. An Oasis Class ship on a similar route with 6000 passengers spend $2000 per person per week. Let’s assume at the same time they are having trouble selling Freedom trips but every Oasis sailing is Sold-Out, Royal Caribbean make a judgment call to replace that Freedom sailing with an Oasis ship. They now have not only added 3000 additional passengers to an itinerary but they are earning double the income per passenger. The port will allow us to safely, expeditiously cater to the larger ship with the higher spending passenger in the Caribbean’s jewel, Grand Cayman.

 

But we have just spent so much on the airport, how can we even consider the Sea Port? Simply put we are financing the Sea Port. Much the same as you would apply to the bank for your home mortgage we as a country are seeking qualified bidders come to the table and offer us a turnkey package - Build, Maintain and Finance the new Port.

 

What about China Harbour, I heard they were one of the bidders on the port, we do not want corrupt Chinese to take over our island! The bid process is a very long, but confidential task. When the bid request was sent out for tender it was answered by many applicants. The procurement committee then had the task of qualifying each and every bidder. We are on the home stretch down to the final three, the committee is working diligently to seek thee absolute best for our country in all respects but must maintain confidentiality throughout the process to avoid breaking procurement protocols.

 

Everyone getting rich off of this, that’s why its so secret!! This is exactly why confidentiality is so important, not one single politician is a member of the committee, with good reason, to have a truly impartial process this is a must. Politicians are simply following a forty plus year discussion on port enhancements to come to fruition.

 

A truly transparent, lucrative, infrastructural mega project for the Cayman Islands demands nothing less!!

 

  • Your cost of living will decrease!
    • Better prices island wide as freight costs reduce by less transshipping.
    • All consumer goods will be affected, vehicles, groceries, building supplies.

 

  • Less crowding
    •  A better weekly spread of ships with longer saturation times means the taxi, tour and watersports operators will have the ability to do more tours that are longer and reduce over crowding at key  attractions.
    •  More time equals more authenticity. We will have the ability to show our islands assets, heading East, our alternative beaches to SMB, The Caves, Mastic Trail, Bike Tours, Botanic Park, Rum     Point will now have TIME to enjoy and explore our natural beauty.
    •  But the dock can hold 4 – Oasis Class Ships, that is 24,000 People, what do you mean less crowding!!

 

  1.    Simply put all 4 pier points have the ability to hold the biggest ships on the sea.
  2.    The port is being designed with the highest flexibility to allow small to large and everything in between.
  3.    Will Royal Caribbean put 4 Oasis ships at our dock on the same day? Not likely given they are globally deployed and still in the minority in terms of the total fleet.

 

  • No anchoring is not true
  1.  This is also true, given a peak day where more than 4 ships have booked to arrive we will allow self-tendering of two additional ships.
  2.   Minimal impact to the George Town undersea floor

 

 

  • I want my say, I want to vote
  1.   We all voted for the current electorate, those in charge of our country were put there by the voting public
  2.   The referendum will cost the country $2-3 Million and delay the Port another 7- 8 Months
  3.   This delay at this time will likely see the final bidder’s withdrawal from the table
  4.   This means the last few years of procurement work will be down the drain and our port project put back on the shelves.
  5.   Can we afford our current cost of living?
  6.   Can we afford to continue to destroy our George Town underwater environment?
  7.   Can we afford to see millions of gallons of diesel burn annually in vain? 

 

 

 


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