The deal to finance the proposed cruise ship berthing dock in George Town will not be similar to the one for the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal, Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford said recently.
‘[The deal for the cruise berthing dock] will be structured completely differently,’ Mr. Clifford said.
The Royal Watler Cruise Terminal is being financed by a bank loan, which will be repaid over the next 15 years by fees collected from cruise ship passengers off vessels of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association
Critics of that deal argue it commits the Cayman Islands to accepting high numbers of cruise ship passengers for an extended time.
The Government announced earlier this year it was going ahead with plans for the berthing facility. Currently, cruise ships have to be tendered to shore, increasing liability insurances and decreasing passenger visits and time ashore.
Early last month, Mr. Clifford refuted a Cayman Net News report that stated discussions had begun with Tampa-based Misener Marine Construction Inc. with regard to the berthing facilities.
‘I want to categorically state that this is not the case,’ he said in a statement made in the Legislative Assembly. ‘There is absolutely no truth to the statement.
‘As Minister of Tourism, I have had no meetings with Misener Marine.’
Misener was criticised by the Auditor General in the special report released recently concerning the marine works contract for the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal.
The report claims Misener made, through a combination of over-estimated quantities and high mark-ups, a profit on materials of nearly $1 million. It also questioned why the contractor used less expensive and less robust materials than were specified in the Request for Proposal.
Mr. Clifford said he had held meetings with two companies that expressed interest in ‘collaborating with the Cayman Islands to develop berthing facilities locally’ but that neither entity was a marine contractor.
Misener, however, has apparently not been ruled out of consideration for the berthing facility, Mr. Clifford said.
‘They are entitled to bid on it if they want to,’ he said.
Although Mr. Clifford could not yet go into any details about the financing arrangement for the berthing project, he did indicate the decision of the selection of a contractor was not entirely separate.
‘If external entities are going to fund the project, clearly they will have a significant amount of influence as to who the contractor will be,’ he said. ‘But it is too early to say who that will be.’
Mr. Clifford said in his statement to the House the Government and the Port Authority are reviewing maps to determine suitable locations for the berthing facilities, and he said further information would be provided when it became available.