Rival group launched to support cruise dock

A new “public information” group has been formed by supporters of a new cruise dock for George Town in an effort to counter a growing campaign against the $150 million project. 

Cayman’s Port, Cayman’s Future, issued a full-page newspaper advertisement Wednesday dismissing some of the opposition to the port as “inaccurate, unsubstantiated scaremongering” and highlighting some of the benefits of a new port for Cayman. 

Chris Kirkconnell, of Kirk Freeport, said the organization was a consortium of concerned businessmen and individuals who wanted to ensure the public had access to accurate information about the impacts of the port project. 

He said it was supported by the Association for the Advancement of Cruise Tourism, which includes representatives from businesses like Kirk Freeport, Tortuga Rum Company and Island Companies, but also involved smaller businesses, tour operators, taxi drivers and individuals who supported improved cruise and cargo facilities for Cayman but currently had no platform to have their voices heard. 

The group appears to have evolved in the face of increasingly organized opposition to the port. A petition circulated by photographer Courtney Platt has gathered more than 2,000 signatures urging government to abandon the dock plan. A new group, called Save Cayman, formed last week with the aim of starting a public awareness and advertising campaign to gather support for a people’s referendum to stop the dock. 

Mr. Kirkconnell said the aim of the Cayman’s Port, Cayman’s Future campaign was to give a voice to those who support a dock and ensure the public had access to all the facts. 

“It is something that came out of concerns from the community to try to make sure the real information gets out there and that the most reasonable possibilities are discussed. 

“If you asked any of the environmental fundamentalists what percentage of natural resources they would be willing to give up for economic development, the answer would be zero percent. There are people that feel we should never touch nature but there has to be some balance between environmental concerns and the economic and social future of the country.” 

Mr. Kirkconnell believes that, without a cruise dock, tourism would dwindle to the point where jobs were affected across the industry, from retail business and restaurants to taxi operators and water-based businesses. 

He believes the current port plan offers a compromise position that would cause the least possible environmental impact of any of the plans put forward in the last decade.  

Engineering consultants Baird made similar comments in a public meeting last month. Dave Anglin, of Baird, said the plan involved less dredging than any other site suggested for a cruise dock in Cayman. 

Mr. Kirkconnell believes environmental campaigners have exaggerated the impacts on the marine environment by highlighting potential damage to iconic dive sites like Eden Rock and Soto’s Reef. 

He said the report highlighted impacts to those sites in a “worst case scenario” but also indicated mitigation measures, including turbidity barriers, could substantially reduce that impact. 

He acknowledged that the environmental impact assessment had indicated building a port would have a negative economic impact, primarily on water sports businesses in the capital. But he said the report also indicated that action, for example, moving the historic wreck of the Balboa to another site, could be taken to offset that impact and create new attractions and opportunities elsewhere. 

He also questioned the much quoted figure that 15 acres of coral reef would be damaged, pointing out the report actually refers to 15 acres of coral and “associated marine habitat” rather than 15 acres of live coral. 

He also points to the fact that the new pier offers a longer term solution for Cayman’s cargo facilities as something that has been overlooked.  

He said the port project on the table offered a solution to the future of cruise tourism and cargo operations in Cayman that would protect the island’s economy with the least possible environmental impact. 

“The report is over 1,000 pages long and not everyone is going to go through this report and we want to make sure correct information is available to everyone. 

“One of the shortfalls of the environmental petition is they are just saying ‘no dock,’ they are not saying what can be done to mitigate the impacts. That is not a realistic approach because there has to be a balance between all the different factors. We want to work with everyone to make sure it is done the right way.” 

Passengers on visiting cruise ships currently use tender boats to transfer to shore in George Town. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT


  1. In any situation involving interference with Mother Nature, the old cliche” – " worst case scenario " – is, in fact, something which MUST be factored in, in planning a project where almost nothing is absolutely predictable. Concerns of the GT retail industry are understandable but, don’t mislead people by dismissing as irrelevant, natural forces over which we have no control, which could result in delay of completion, cost overruns, and long term catastrophic damage to the environment.

  2. "Associated Marine Habitat", Is alive within the coral reefs and the ironfront shoreline where majority of all marine life reside; one has to take their head out of the sand to see this ? !; no pun intended.

  3. To the business leaders for the cruise ship dock, how can 2,000 people that are against the cruise ship dock, that make their living from the water / under water environment, and can see the destruction that would be caused to the environment for this dock be wrong, and that you few business people see that the dock would be the answer, only says your interest is money bottom line $$$$. I say no no to the cruise ship dock.

  4. Mr. Kirkconnell believes…
    Beliefs and guesses and assumptions are not enough.
    Please support your beliefs with: Technology and system feasibility,Legal Feasibility; Operational Feasibility; Economic Feasibility; Technical Feasibility; Schedule Feasibility; Market feasibility; Resource feasibility; Cultural feasibility; Financial feasibility study (s).

  5. I wonder if the price of popcorn will go up in the stores. After all it might be entertaining watching these two sides go at it.


    Sarcasm aside.

    I believe this is why we’ll never have any real progress made with this country.

    Too many people like to go against something that could be good for the island, but they don’t like it because of change or some other drastic effect. – and chances are they do have a very good and valid reason for doing so, in which should not be ignored.

    Likewise on the other end of the spectrum you also have the other side of people who could possibly see the benefits to the country as a whole. – And again, they too should not be ignored.

    But, all I can see is that both sides will just go at it like cats and dogs bickering with each other resolving nothing in the process.

    And in the end, I feel nothing will be resolved, no real solutions or fresh ideas to really solve problem will be put on the table, and if realistic solutions do actually come to the table, they are probably brushed aside, ignored and forgotten.

    Instead all there will be is just conflict of interests.

    I can only think at the end of the day, the result will probably be the same.

    After all isn’t all of this similar to the "dump" problem that we have on our hands now? If I recall, the problem has yet to be resolved.

    In my eyes, I believe our Government has way too many projects on their hands that they can actively and realistically deal with, after all does our Government even have the capital money for any of these projects to begin with??

    I do believe everything needs to stop and be completely re-evaluated, and another approach needs to be hammered out to solve the problems in Cayman.

    The problem is how can this approach can be brought to the table with people bickering with each other like immature children.

    In the meantime I’ll just go back to eating my popcorn and enjoying how this show plays out.