Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush has argued that Cayman must move quickly on the building of a cruise ship berthing facility.
Mr. Bush says the port project would have a huge economic impact on the country, helping it shake off the effects of the economic downturn.
But more importantly, Cayman is facing an ultimatum by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association to build cruise berthing facilities quickly or lose Grand Cayman as a port of call for many ships, particularly the Freedom and Oasis-class vessels.
For several years now, cruise lines have been building larger ships. These vessels, some of which are nearly 1,200 feet long and hold some 5,400 passengers, cannot feasibly be offloaded by tender. For this and other reasons – like comfort, safety and liability – the cruise lines prefer to call on ports that offer berthing facilities.
If Grand Cayman wants to remain a major port of call for cruise lines, it must build berthing facilities.
There are some people who don’t think this is the right way to go for Cayman’s tourism industry, but both this government and the previous government think it is.
And while some people think building the berthing facility in George Town is a mistake, the options for other sites are very limited.
Right from the start, this new port project has run into question concerning the tendering process. Mr. Bush had defended the tendering method used and has given his reasons.
Ultimately, the current government was elected to lead the Cayman Islands and make the tough decisions. This is one of those tough decisions.
But in the current situation facing Cayman, there is little room for mistakes on a project of this size and importance. We hope Mr. Bush is right when he says the best and most capable developer will be chosen for the project because the country simply can’t afford anything else.