Floating cruise pier idea sinking

A floating cruise pier – promoted by local businessmen as an environmentally friendly alternative to dredging George Town harbor – would face significant technical challenges, according to government’s marine engineering consultants. 

The consultants looked at the proposal as part of their Environmental Impact Assessment on the cruise berthing project and questioned its ability to withstand hurricanes. 

“Conceptually it is a great idea. In reality there are many questions about how you do that,” said Dave Anglin, of the coastal engineering firm Baird. 

Citing concern about the environmental consequences of dredging the harbor to build fixed piers, hotelier Reginald Delapenha and architect Burns Conolly teamed up with a Dutch engineering firm to produce concept designs for the project. In its review of those proposals, Baird wrote, “The proposed floating pier concept provides a number of potential significant benefits as compared to a fixed pier concept, including reduced environmental impacts as well as a reduced duration of on-site construction activities and the associated reduction in impacts to existing businesses and operations.  

“However, there are a number of significant technical challenges to address in the design of such a facility, and it is not apparent that these issue issues have been considered by the proponent at this time.” 

It adds, “The proposed concept is unique, and without precedent, for a site exposed to hurricane waves. Based upon the information available at this time regarding the floating pier concept, Baird questions whether the concept is technically feasible.” 

The report recommends the group behind the plan be given the chance to address those concerns, through a more detailed proposal. 

Technical challenges 

If the technical issues can be addressed, it says, developers should be invited to bid on the project. 

Mr. Delapenha urged government to invest the necessary funds to look in more detail at the floating pier concept. 

He said Tuesday night’s public meeting showed there was overwhelming opposition to government’s preferred project, which would impact more than 30 acres of coral reef and cost the dive industry millions of dollars in tourist spending. 

“I think they need to take a closer look at it. I don’t think that is unreasonable given the challenges with the current proposal. 

“Regardless of whether they go with our proposal, this one is not going to fly. 

“I trust that government is not foolhardy enough to just go ahead and do it anyway. It is the country’s future and I can’t see them ignoring all the opposition and forging ahead.” 

Baird’s examination of the floating pier concept, which would extend the pier beyond the reef wall eliminating the requirement for dredging highlighted a number of potentially “fatal flaws.” 

“In particular, Baird questions the ability to develop a sufficiently robust mooring system given the significant water depths into which the floating piers would extend.” 

The floating pier concept would eliminate the need for dredging.


  1. Why environmentally destructive project is the only option in this day and age? It is 2015 last time I checked.
    I will repeat this again and again, the cruise pier or the famous Grand Cayman dump problems look like a child’s play compared to the ocean cleanup project that a dutch kid, born in 1994, Boyan Slat has invented and is preparing for execution. And it is " unique, and without precedent". May be the coastal engineering firm Baird wants to learn a thing or two from this kid and figure out" how you do that".
    It had always been assumed that cleaning the oceans was impossible….. it would take about 79,000 years and tens of billions of dollars…it would cause significant harm to sea life and generate huge amounts of CO2 and other emissions.
    Human history is basically a list of things that couldn’t be done, and then were done. Boyan Slat.

  2. Please do not invest any tax funding into the floating dock idea (at least on the ocean shores), its a disaster waiting to happen. Strong nor’westers and especially hurricanes will absolutely without a doubt send that monstrosity flying into the middle of George town. With massive waves pounding from the sides and especially underneath significantly risks detaching this thing from the ocean floor, or the very least shred it apart sending debris all over. It’s even hard to imagine someone seriously proposed such as idea…. Seriously. This thing is riddled with risks…. Imagine one captain hits the bow thrusters too hard and one of the ships hits the floating dock a bit hard… what happens to all the passengers one the dock and the little elders walking down the dock? If those tourist go flying and breaks a hip or falls into the water and drowns? Who’s going to pay the lawsuit? I have a suspicion it will the tax payers… Then the tax payers will have to build a new dock altogether, once the cruise lines deems to dock unsafe to dock…

    The floating "ocean dock" is a bad bad BAD! idea. Kinda of like inviting the guest you know can likely cause a problem at your party. Just don”t invite them.

  3. The bridge out to the ships they built in the Yucatan Peninsula is impressive and maybe they need to ask the folks that did this what they can offer. It doesn’t hurt to ask the engineers that design and build these things for ideas, they surely know a lot more than the average Joe or any local Politician about pier building. I think they should just put out a request for proposals from the experts in this line of work or just step aside and let someone in the private sector capable of actually getting it done and doing it right deal with it. And this goes for the dump too.

    Find someone who has the financial backing or access to the needed funding, has a track record for actually completing their projects and is known to design and build things that work in harmony with the environment around it.

    You’d think that for the 200 Millions or more dollars planed to be spent on this that something can be built which will preserves the existing marine environment.

    A bridge built on large concrete pylons would a a lot let impact than dumping millions of tons on concrete and of fill into the ocean, not to mention all the dredging needed to bring the ships inside the reef..

    I am seriously flabbergasted that government has such a one track mind on this. It has to be in Georgetown, It has to a big concrete block, I have to do, I have to do , I have to do it..

  4. I’ve seen a couple people mention the long dock in Mexico. This is obviously not feasible here, since Mexico sits on a shallow continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico and thus has ample land to extend the dock away from the shore. Anyone familiar with Cayman knows the wall drops off into the abyss only a few hundred meters from our shore.

    As to the floating pier, it does sound problematic but let the engineers study it and come to a conclusion. The Baird consultants have raise the issue that everyone has already thought of. Marvels of engineering occur every day.

  5. This ideas is as stupid as the politicians that are proposing it. Look at the number of years that it would be before the project is complete , how many northwester would we have in one season , all of the dredged silt would come out and go to northwest point covering all the corals/dive sites. Would this make sense to destroy our natural environment, and a multi million diving industry for one cruise ship pier.