Opinions split on cruise berthing

The latest caycompass.com online poll showed opinions on whether Cayman should build a new cruise ship berthing facility are split.

Of the 513 respondents, 241 (47 per cent) said the cruise berthing facility was much needed.

‘With the possible opening up of Cuba, we have to get this facility if we are serious about cruise tourism,’ said one person. ‘We had some near disasters when the weather was too much for the tenders.’

‘As a leading Caribbean cruise destination, we are lagging behind in this area,’ said another respondent. ‘Not only would the berthing facility enable tourists to remain on shore for a longer period of time and hopefully spend more money, it is also a much needed convenience for travellers with small children as well as disabled and elderly travellers.’

Another person thought people don’t understand the importance of cruise tourism to the Cayman economy.

‘It’s time for the people of Grand Cayman to wake up and realise the actual impact cruise ships have on their personal lives and livelihoods. A lot of the nay-sayers may not realise or want to admit that the millions of US dollars [cruise passengers] bring each year also trickles into their pockets as well. I remember how we were begging them to come back after Ivan.’

A total of 254 respondents (49.6 per cent) opposed the cruise berthing facility for one of several reasons.

The largest segment (144 people or 28.1 per cent) thought the berthing facility would cause too much damage to coral reefs. Sixty-four people (12.5 per cent) agreed that Cayman might need the cruise berthing facility, but said the country can’t afford it right now. In addition, 46 people (nine per cent) thought we didn’t need the berthing facility and that tenders were working just fine.

‘Why are we trying to be like everywhere else?’ asked one person. ‘I like who we are.’

‘It will put too many local people out of work,’ said another respondent. ‘What will they do with the tenders?’

‘I think we should be concentrating on high-end stay-over tourism, not cruise tourism,’ said someone else. ‘A limited amount of cruise tourism would be good, though. Can’t we just build a berthing facility for two ships and not four? It would cost less and limit the impact on the coral reefs. And it would keep the cruise tender companies happy to because there would still be a need for them on busy days.’

Another person thought cruise tourism was not a good thing for Cayman.

‘How pathetic that we have sold out to the trinket trade and are deluding ourselves by thinking the ephemeral cruise ship trade is our economic salvation. It has sanitised the entire Caribbean, made us all a parody of white man’s paradise, and now cruise lines complain customers are tired of the Caribbean’s ‘sameness’. Shame on us!’

One other person thought the government should consider taking the cruise berthing facility out of George Town, perhaps to Spotts Dock.

Someone else warned of the potential environmental impacts.

‘You could destroy Seven Mile Beach when you play with Mother Nature. Do you want to keep the stay-over visitors?’

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