Spotts Landing not ready

When waters are too choppy for cruise ships in George Town, Spotts Landing cannot be used for disembarkation until it comes up to special security standards.

An ill cruise passenger was the only person allowed to disembark a cruise ship at Spotts Landing on 27 December when waters were too choppy in George Town. This disembarkation was permitted because it was a case of emergency.

Under special circumstances on the same date passengers were allowed to embark another two ships, but security issues disallows use of Spotts Landing for normal business purposes.

‘Spotts can only be used for emergency disembarkation. It cannot be used for normal business,’ explained Port Facility Security Officer with the Port Authority, Joseph Woods.

Improvements to Spotts Dock to bring it up to newly required standards as a secondary cruise support facility for Grand Cayman began recently.

The facility will need to come into compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, which is mandated for cruise port facilities worldwide. The code comprises a set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities, developed in response to perceived threats to the maritime industry in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

The port in George Town was brought into compliance with this code in July.

Mr. Woods explained that because of an emergency on board the Galaxy (Celebrity Cruises) on 27 December, Government allowed a sick passenger was to disembark in Grand Cayman.

Of the five ships scheduled to call to Grand Cayman that day two others also stopped at Spotts Landing. This was to allow passengers to board under special circumstances.

‘Quite a few passengers had flown to Cayman to catch the ships because there had been a lot of delayed flights in the US over the holidays because of bad weather and other holiday issues. We permitted these passengers to board at Spotts,’ he explained.

The two ships involved were the Carnival Inspiration and the Norwegian Sun.

The other two ships scheduled to stop in Grand Cayman on that date simply bypassed it because of the choppy seas in George Town.

A Letter to the Editor that appeared in the Caymanian Compass on Friday, 31 December criticised the fact that ships were not permitted to disembark at Spotts on 27 December.

‘Give me a break Government! Why couldn’t someone at the Port Authority instruct the ship to dock at Cayman Brac at least so the passengers could walk around, shop, snorkel, enjoy the restaurants etc.,’ read the letter.

However, as Mr. Woods explained, when the waters are choppy in George Town they tend to be choppy in Cayman Brac also, as the dock there faces into North Westerly winds, as was the case on 27 December.

The letter to the paper went on, ‘Can anyone, somebody please explain why they are so disorganised in that they cannot put the Spotts Landing in working condition?’

According to Mr. Woods there is not only a safety issue at Spotts Dock, but a security issue, and the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands is awaiting the arrival of fencing that needs to be erected at Spotts to meet the security criteria.

‘With that in place we can begin to function there,’ he said.

Mr. Woods said he does not know when this fencing will arrive, but until it does no cruise passengers can disembark at Spotts except in the case of an emergency. If waters are too choppy for the ships in George Town, the cruise vessels will simply have to bypass the Cayman Islands.