Another gay cruise will dock in Grand Cayman this coming Monday and a week later the biggest cruise ship in the world will make its presence felt in George Town.
Monday’s visit will be the second distinctly gay cruise to visit Grand Cayman so far this year.
The Gay Days cruise takes place on board Carnival’s Inspiration fun ship. It will dock in George Town on 29 May at 7am and leave that afternoon at 2pm. Passenger capacity of the ship is 2,634. Gay Days cruises notes on its website that this is not an ‘all gay’ cruise, but will feature many exclusive events for the Gay Days guests.
Director of the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands Paul Hurlston confirmed that the cruise would be handled the same way as the last gay cruise was in January, with extra security on duty as a precaution. Security also kept the port-side clear of onlookers so passengers could move to and fro freely.
In January The Largest Gay Cruise in History II on board the Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas saw curious residents turn out to see the gay cruise passengers come ashore. A small number turned out to protest, but the day passed off without much disturbance.
Following that cruise a spokesperson from the organisers Atlantis Events said, ‘The response from most guests onboard the cruise has been overwhelmingly positive and many look forward to returning to the Cayman Islands in the future’.
In 2001 the Ministry of Tourism implemented a policy of non-discrimination to all who seek to visit these islands.
The issue of gay cruises visiting Cayman has generated controversy in previous years. In 1998 there were protests from the gay community when the Government refused to allow a gay cruise ship carrying 900 passengers to dock.
Although he could not be contacted by press time Chairman of the Cayman Ministers’ Association Pastor Al Ebanks said back in January that the CMA remained opposed to the arrival of a cruise that promoted itself as gay.
The Gay Days six-day-cruise begins in Tampa on Saturday 27 May. After Grand Cayman, its first stop, it goes on to Mexico before heading back to Tampa.
On 29 May it joins Carnival’s Imagination in port. Combined the two ships have a maximum passenger capacity of 5,268.
Meanwhile the biggest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas will arrive in George Town on Wednesday 7 June at 9am, leaving later that day at 5:30 pm. It has a passenger capacity of 3,600, double occupancy, and will come here on its maiden voyage.
The ship will be one of four scheduled to call that day. The combined passenger capacity of the four ships is 10,768.
According to specifications posted on Royal Caribbean’s website, the new ship will eclipse the Queen Mary II in passenger capacity.
Port Facility Security Officer of the Cayman Islands Port Authority, Joseph Woods said that the size of the ship will not present any logistical problems.
‘For a cruise port that has docking facilities, they may have problems. But anchoring doesn’t affect us at all. We can take them as large as they make them,’ Mr. Woods said.
The Freedom of the Seas will depart from Miami, Florida. Its itinerary comprises Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Labadee, Hispaniola; and back to Miami.
Among the amenities the ship will offer are an interactive water park, a sports pool and what the company is calling the world’s largest shipboard rock-climbing wall.
The 1,817 staterooms will include six different categories geared toward families and a 1,215 sq ft presidential suite that can sleep 14 people.
Royal Caribbean has plans to launch an even bigger ship, with a liner able to accommodate 5,400 passengers scheduled for delivery in 2009.