An 81-year-old couple visiting Grand Cayman since the 1960s says it is their favourite Caribbean destination because of the friendliness of the people.
Now married for 61 years, Bill and Louise Pierce of Poteau, Oklahoma, came here back in 1969 on a cruise ship that held 600 people.
‘They brought 30 of us on a bus to the Galleon Beach. I fell in love with Cayman, especially Seven Mile Beach,’ said Mr. Pierce.
After that they said they had to return, and they did.
In the early ’70s they began the first of six or seven stays at the old ‘Holiday Inn’.
They also stayed at Pan-Cayman House five or six times and at the old Beachcomber three or four times.
They most recently spent their vacation at Villas of the Galleon on West Bay Road where they have stayed about eight times. Mr. Pierce commended General Manager Lisa Ebanks. ‘She’s a jewel. She’s my buddy. She takes care of me,’ he said.
He and his family intend to keep coming to Grand Cayman.
‘The main thing down here is the people. They are the best people in the world,’ he said.
This visit, along with his wife, he brought his son Bill, daughter-in-law Brenda and granddaughter Katie.
‘We save our money during the year so we can come down here and splurge,’ he said.
They have eaten in lots of the restaurants, including Deckers, the Lobster Pot and Casanovas. ‘We love the seafood. We love it all,’ he said. ‘They have some of the best restaurants in the world here.’
Back in the early ’70s when he and his wife first used to visit, West Bay Road wasn’t even paved.
There were lots of challenges.
‘There were lots of mosquitoes and water was a precious commodity. They didn’t have a desalination plant then, but we put up with it.’
They remember being given mosquito repellent by the hotel and having a mosquito net over their bed.
But yet the couple returned again and again over the years.
‘We’ve always felt safe down here,’ said Mr. Pierce. ‘I know crime is increasing but it’s that way everywhere.’
He was shaken up by the killing of Estella Scott-Roberts last year. ‘We had just visited the week before and eaten at Deckers and I got home and read the Caymanian Compass about all that and it really shook me up,’ he said.
But he believes the RCIPS have done a good job in general and he would like to see them receive more funds and train more officers.
One thing he feels the government has come a long way on is the streets, roads and the sidewalks. ‘They’re so much better,’ he said.
But he feels more pedestrian crossings should be installed along West Bay Road.
‘There’s people standing there trying to cross and the traffic moves very fast.’
Mr. Pierce would also like to see the name ‘Pirates Week’ stay on as the name of the national festival.
In Oklahoma their town’s high -school sports team is called ‘The Poteau Pirates’.
‘Look at the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. They won’t change that,’ he said.
Speaking of Pirates Week, he said, ‘It’s a fun deal. I want them to keep that pirate bit, that’s money to them, that’s money . . . but they’re afraid they’re going to offend some people. It’s going to give them a bad image.’
He also believes the rollover policy or seven year term limit for expatriate workers, needs some attention.
‘Two or three people I knew real well here, their seven years caught up with them and they had to leave. They didn’t ever come back and they were smart, good people that would help.’
As far as cruise tourists go, Mr Pierce believes the Cayman Islands needs them, and although he sees the need for cruise berthing facilities he’s wary of a deep water port being built on the harbour front in George Town. ‘I’m wary of what it would do to that whole area,’ he said.
He believes that stay-over tourism will bounce back soon enough. ‘It’s down everywhere. You just got to hang on a bit longer,’ he said.
And loving the Cayman Islands as he does, once he returns home to Poteau, Oklahoma, he always promotes the Cayman Islands and the wonderful time he has here to family, friends and everyone he knows there.
‘I tell people ‘You need to come to Cayman’ and I’ll do that until I pass on,’ he said.
Despite having been to nearly all the other islands in the Caribbean, he and his wife put Grand Cayman as their top destination. ‘It’s the people and next to that it’s the beautiful facilities like these villas, the food and the beach,’ Mr. Pierce said.
Although the family are not fortunate to live in a city where they get a direct flight to Grand Cayman, they believe the most recent route they took is relatively hassle free. They drove to Fayetteville, Arkansas and took a flight to Atlanta via Delta Airlines and connected with a direct flight to Grand Cayman.
Mr. Pierce said nothing could stop him coming here. ‘I’d do it if I lived in Ontario,’ he said. ‘We just love it to death.’
‘They brought 30 of us on a bus to the Galleon Beach. I fell in love with Cayman, especially Seven Mile Beach,’ Bill Pierce, repeat visitor