The finger pier at George Town’s new Royal Watler Cruise Facility is set to open in two weeks.
The 200-foot-long by 40-foot-wide tender pier will be used for cruise ship passengers to embark and disembark. It will help disperse the crowds between the new facility and the North and South terminals in George Town.
The grand opening takes place Thursday, 5 May at 5.30pm to which the public is invited, said Leader of Government Business and Minister for Tourism McKeeva Bush. Mr. Bush is also Chairman of the Port Authority. He added that the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association will also be present for the grand opening.
Funding for this project and the forthcoming West Bay Cruise Tender Facility is coming from the Florida association. It has agreed to repay the US$26 million loan to build both facilities.
Mr. Bush said the George Town facility will greatly help to disperse congestion of cruise passengers in George Town.
The opening of the terminal will be a very special occasion for the Cayman Islands and its cruise industry, he said.
Mr. Bush said that because of delays other aspects of the terminal are not yet ready. He said he had encountered many roadblocks getting the project done, but it will be a tremendous product, he said.
Although the Government has put no funding into the project, it will gain the revenue produced from it, he added.
The land-based part of the project (offices and commercial buildings) is currently under construction and will be cordoned off from the functional finger pier. Mr. Bush said decorative pictures will be placed on the walls of the area barricaded off.
The completed finger pier of the terminal has already been put to the test successfully. On Thursday, 24 March passengers from three Royal Caribbean cruise ships were carried on cruise tenders from their ships into the new dock area.
During this trial the Port Authority reported a great flow of passengers between this pier and the North and South terminals.
The new site will facilitate up to eight cruise ships in George Town (to include continued use of the existing North and South terminals).
The marine works part of the project, which has been fully completed for some months, included the building of a sea wall and finger pier, and the filling in of re-claimed land up to four feet above sea level. This work was undertaken by Misener Marine out of Tampa, Florida.
The second land-based part of the project being undertaken by Hurlston Ltd., a local company, involves construction of the terminal building. This will be a one-storey building which will include restrooms, Customs, Immigration and Department of Tourism offices, along with a nursing station for sick passengers.
The retail building will consist of two storeys, housing souvenir shops and restaurants and a paved plaza will hold miscellaneous retail kiosks.