Marineland Tours is ready to begin tourism operations with a 100-person capacity tour boat.
The 75-foot Cayman Explorer was constructed in Canada to specifications and is capable of handling corporate and private parties, as well as operating at Stingray City and other venues, said Kent Eldemire, whose son Curtis is CEO of Marineland Tours.
“In the past 20 years there hasn’t been a new tourism product on the island so that was the motivation [behind expanding the fleet]. We searched and found unique products,” Mr. Eldemire said. “One of these was originally built as a whale-watching boat; we flew up and spoke to the people who modified it with diving ramps and so on. It is properly certified and purpose-built.”
Additions to the interior include a bar, seating and tables which are fully removable and a special ladder which allows loading directly from the beach. The vessel was built under daily inspection by Transport Canada, in one of the strictest jurisdictions in the world.
The vessel has three Caterpillar engines and though she is capable of running close to 30 knots, she will be running at around 18 knots in Cayman.
“We have already done a corporate trip to Kaibo; we have night vision security cameras and all international equipment, a licensed captain and professional crew and are happy to introduce this to the Cayman Islands,” Mr. Eldemire said. “We are in discussions with cruise lines to do Stingray City.
“This adds to our current amphibious bus,” he said. “We have another one of those coming within the next six weeks and we have five trolley buses which we have brought in solely to transport our own passengers. We will not be taking people on sight-seeing tours.”
He said Marineland has been in discussions with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association and are close to signing a deal to become a cruise tour provider.
Faith in Cayman
So far, Mr. Eldemire said investment in the Marineland vessels is close to $4 million, with the Explorer costing $1.6 million. He said that it represented faith in the country’s product.
“We think Cayman is not ‘a Caribbean island’, it is an island in the Caribbean sea,” Mr. Eldemire said. “It has been geared for so many years to tourism; there are not vendors sitting on the sidewalks hassling people. It’s clean and tidy; every country has its problems, but Cayman is a shining example to other Caribbean islands.
“We have faith in ourselves and understand tourism having been involved with diving resorts and so on. There is nothing that filters through the economy like a tourist dollar. From the time they buy the ticket, the hotel, tipping the guy at the airport, the restaurant, the taxis – we need these dollars that filter down. The financial dollars do not filter down in the same way. We are pleased to be in the industry and we hope to be recognised as an asset to the tourism product.”