Cruise dock deal on track

The construction company that signed a framework agreement last month to construct a cruise ship berthing port in George Town says things are progressing well toward a contract.

GLF Construction Company, which is working along with Cayman-based Royal Construction, signed the framework agreement with The Port Authority of the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Islands Government on 15 December with the goal of negotiating a final contract within four months.

Royal Construction Managing Director Howard Finlason said his company and GLF are extremely pleased with the progress achieved since signing the framework agreement.

“Numerous meetings have been held with interested banking and financial institutions, specialist engineering and geotechnical consultants, interested dredging subcontractors and the Cayman Islands Port Authority, including preliminary discussions with the cruise lines, all of which are ongoing,” he said.

He noted that GLF representatives have been back and forth from their Miami offices a couple of times this month for meetings, and that representatives of Royal were in Miami last week for meetings.

“The first conceptual layouts have been completed and are being refined for presentation to the government and the Port Authority for their input, with a view to collectively developing and agreeing on the best design, which will then undergo a full simulation test at the Star Center in Dania Beach, Florida,” Mr. Finlason said.

Port Authority Chairman Stefan Baraud echoed Mr. Finlason’s remarks.

“Things are progressing quite nicely,” he said, noting that the detail of the technical discussions being held now has already surpassed that of all previous discussions held about the port’s construction.

Mr. Baraud said all aspects of the project are being looked at, including the technical aspects, the financial numbers, and operations.

“To properly plan for the project, we’ll also be consulting with the facility’s users, right on down to the taxi drivers and tour operators to find out their needs.”

Mr. Baraud said the simulation test at the Star Centre scheduled for next month would be a significant milestone for the project.

“That’s when we’ll take the design and have it simulated by captains of Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines to see how it performs in various conditions,” he said. “We want to make sure it works.”

Last week at the Fidelity Cayman Business Outlook conference, Premier McKeeva Bush said that a Chinese construction group – with which negotiations are ongoing for other projects in Cayman – was prepared to take on the cruise port project as well if negotiations didn’t lead to a contract in the time frame stipulated.

Mr. Finlason said he had no problems with Mr. Bush’s backup plan because he was confident it wouldn’t be needed.

“Royal/GLF is committed to achieving all time lines established within the framework agreement with a view to moving this much-needed project forward as quickly as possible,” he said.

The government has previously stated it wanted the cruise berthing facility completed by November 2012 to correspond with the hosting of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association conference. However, the project is estimated to take 18 to 24 months to complete once construction begins.