Cruise line offers berthing deal


A cruise line has submitted a written proposal to the Cayman Islands government to develop cruise berthing facilities in George Town. 

Minister of Tourism and Development Cline Glidden told reporters Thursday that the government had received a “preliminary proposal from one of the lines” since his meeting with the cruise line industry in Florida last month. He did not specify which cruise line had approached the government with the offer. 

Other cruise lines have also expressed an interest in developing berthing piers in the local harbour, he said at Cabinet’s weekly media briefing on Thursday, 31 January. 

Accepting an offer from a cruise line to build the berthing dock presents a challenge to government, he admitted, as it did not follow the traditional procurement process of a competitive tender. However, the offer from the cruise line represents a “whole different scenario”, said Mr. Glidden, that may be considered more akin to a licensing process. 

He described a situation in which a cruise line company approaches the government for permission to build a pier to enable it to bring passengers on island. “Then the question gets further complicated,” he said. “Is that procurement or is it just a licence to allow them to build a pier?” Mr. Glidden asked. 

He said the United Kingdom government supported plans to create berthing facilities for cruise ships in the British Overseas Territory “as long as it follows best practice procurement process”. 

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office late last year ordered then-Premier McKeeva Bush and the Cayman Islands government to halt a deal with China Harbour Engineering Company to build berthing facilities in Grand Cayman because it had not undergone the correct procurement process, such as a public tender or been accepted by the Central Tenders Committee. Under existing law, all public sector projects valued at more than $250,000 must be evaluated and approved by the Central Tenders Committee. 

Mr. Glidden said the Cayman Islands government is consulting with Nigel Hearndon, a financial consultant appointed by the British to liaise with the government on procurement issues, on whether this offer, or others that may be received, would be acceptable to the UK government.  

The proposed development of a cruise dock has seen many iterations over the years. None have come to fruition. 

The major up-side of partnering with a cruise line in building new berthing facilities would be that the company could guarantee a certain number of visitors to Grand Cayman for an agreed upon number of years, said Mr. Glidden – something developers could not guarantee. “No one else can guarantee what the line can guarantee,” he said. 

Time is also of the essence, the minister admitted, as cruise lines prepare their itineraries two to three years in advance. “It is critically important for us to ensure that we do our best to try to get an arrangement made that will allow us not to lose the 2015 season,” Minister Glidden told reporters.  

If a cruise line company – or multiple cruise line companies – were to get the go-ahead to build a dock, the ownership and operation of the facility would remain with the Cayman Islands government, the tourism minister said. 

Preferential berthing 

The cruise line that has made the offer to build the dock has asked for a preferential berthing arrangement, Mr. Glidden said. This means that during a set period of time, if the cruise line has ships in port, it has preference to use the berth it has built.  

“If we’re talking about two berths, the request has only been made for preference on one of those berths,” he said.  

Asking for such a preferential arrangement confirms the cruise company’s commitment to bring passengers to Cayman for that agreed period of time, which was “a good problem to have”, Mr. Glidden said. 

With no berthing facilities in place at the moment in Grand Cayman, cruise ship passengers are transported to shore on board tender boats while the cruise ships anchor in the harbour. 


  1. Let’s see the rules, procedures, and processes that will arise from our own law books to slow down development or stop this from happening.

    The UK FCO is about slowing down or halting our economic development because it is about maintaining power over the colonies. Once a colony becomes so economic stable that it can boldly speak words at the FCO without thought of consequence, they know it is time to declare full rule. It is all a power game.

    Evidence: We have been speaking about a Cruise Berthing facility for over 10 years now and nothing has happpened. Businesses are suffering because of it and our economy is weakened. Everytime we have pushed for development or a project, interestingly even some of our local politicians, have cherry-picked laws and make a fuss on how process and procedures are not being followed. The result of their demonstrations and branding those who want to move forward as criminals, has resulted in these projects postponed and many made to a halt.

    Yes, the evidence is there and my hope is that these powers for once in their lives think about the people here who have to deal with paying bills and expenses, who has to deal with the economic slowdown. My hope is that those at the top see not their own interest alone but the interest of the people of these islands first!

  2. Why not just put out a world wide request for proposal with a minimum set of specifics or standards to be met.

    Establish a competent review comittee with the appropriate transparancy and oversight.

    Select the top 3 proposals for ajudication and stop waffleing and vacillating!

  3. I will only believe it when I see it, to this day I have seen not one single idea put on the table in Cayman that rivals did not bash. I simply cannot wait to read the complaints about this one. I am sure they will range from the dredging will create a whirlpool in the Georgetown Harbour and suck Cayman into it to a ship may crash into the island and split it in half causing each side to fall into the ocean. Just being a little humorous but I am sure the will be plenty of people against this just like everything else..
    The one thing I can say is that if they build it one can only assume that they will not want pay any per passenger fees for a good while at least. I am sure they will want more in return than just preferential treatment.

  4. If the Cayman Government cannot get their act together to build a cruise ship dock, and has spent the last 5 years discussing, hiring, firing, hiring, firing companies to do it, then what makes them think they would be successful if the cruise ship company builds it? They would never agree on it. And is it REALLY the standard that Cayman wants needs? Will it have retail stores and give a spectacular, awe-inspiring first impression? Of course not. Likely to be one big, long, concrete walkway. If Dart had started it when they were first contracted to do so, without the government changing their minds and complaining about the price– it would have been done already. You get what you pay for — do you want these people to be so impressed that they return to Cayman for a longer holdiday next time or don’t you? Why is our Government dragging it’s feet on something that we so blatently and desperately need. That should be their utmost first priority — it’s an URGENT need before we lose ALL our cruise ship business. Then watch the crime soar!

  5. I certainly hope the desire for tourist dollars will not take precedence over the protection of Cayman’s harbor and sealife. A berthing facility right downtown in Georgetown would not be a lovely addition to the view of the harbor.

  6. I think this just goes to show how completely fed up the cruise lines are with the situation in Cayman. Cayman is a quality destination that tourists would like see, and being sandwiched between Jamaica and Mexico on most routes does not hurt either.

    In light of this offer it will be interesting to see how much Old Family Politics still exists in Cayman today.

  7. Hopefully this government will show transparency in their sharing with the public the full and complete Environmental Impact Assessment for the George Town pier.
    Given the close proximity of 7 Mile Beach to the dredged basin required for the pier some concern regarding sand movement and beach erosion makes sense and needs to be addressed.

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