Cayman Islands look at floating cruise pier to rival St. Maarten

POSTED: 11/5/14 9:39 AM

CAYMAN ISLANDS – A floating cruise pier is now being considered by Cayman Island stakeholders that would rival Port St. Maarten by being able to accommodate six cruise ships at one time. If the private sector stakeholders are able to muster government support around the project, it could be operational in 2017.  Port St. Maarten’s current two cruise piers accommodate simultaneously six cruise ships.

Executives from Carnival Cruise Lines, one of the world’s major cruise ship operators, back in January 2014 dismissed a floating pier concept for Grand Cayman as a “pie in the sky” idea and urged the Cayman government to look at a long-term solution by building two permanent cruise piers in George Town harbor.

The Carnival Corporation is one of the largest vacation companies in the world attracting over 10 million guests annually. The portfolio of leading cruise brands includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn in North America; P&O Cruises (UK), and Cunard in the United Kingdom; AIDA Cruises in Germany; Costa Cruises in Southern Europe; Iberocruceros in Spain; and P&O Cruises (Australia) in Australia.

The Cayman Islands at the moment does not have a cruise pier and all cruise passengers have to be tendered to shore.  The island received 1.375,872 million cruise passengers in 2013; Port St. Maarten received 1.785,670 cruise passengers in the same year.

Cayman Island authorities both public and private have been exploring and toiling with the idea of a cruise facility for a number of years and to date nothing has materialized.

The envisioned floating cruise pier would be hurricane proof and could costs approximately US$200 million. Environmental factors have been one of the main considerations playing a role whether to build a cruise facility outside George Town harbor.

Funding of the project would be raised from private capital under the current scenario that has been recently presented to the Cayman business community by several investors.

Dutch engineering firm Witteveen & Bos according to reports has been giving advice with respect to the floating pier concept, and has also drafted the design for the project.

The Cayman stakeholders who are supporting the floating cruise pier concept prefer to raise local funding to finance the project rather than partnering with one or more cruise lines who would put up all or part of the funding and in return receive guaranteed berthing rights for a certain period of time.  The local investors feel that this would create an odd relationship with other cruise lines.

Port St. Maarten partnered with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Carnival Cruise Lines with respect to the construction of its second cruise pier.  The strategic decision was made years ago by the supervisory board and port management in order to meet the demands of the cruise sector which launched the mammoth vessels such as the Oasis of the Seas and Carnival Dream considered as the ships of the 21st century. (Soualiga Newsday Report)

 

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