Online poll: Cruise dock poll gets hijacked

Last week’s online poll asking people’s opinions about the proposed cruise ship dock was subjected to more than 50,000 duplicate votes in a deliberate attempt to skew the results. 

More than 26,000 of the duplicate votes were for the option, “It’s critical to Cayman’s future,” and more duplicate votes came in for the option “It’s important, but not vital” as well. 

Not to be outdone, those against the port submitted large numbers of duplicate votes as well, with more than 20,000 duplicates cast for, “We don’t need it at all,” and another 3,800 coming in for, “We don’t really need it.” 

In addition, someone tried to manipulate the results by using proxy servers from around the world to create unique IP addresses and the voted every one to two minutes over the course of about three hours for, “It’s critical to Cayman’s future.” 

Because of the uncertainty of the results caused by the massive manipulation attempt, the Compass has decided not to rely on the number of votes cast in the poll, but instead focus on the comments left by those who participated as those appear to have been posted by genuine respondents. 

“Cruise tourism is vital and George Town has many businesses employing many Caymanians, all of whom depend on tourists,” said one person. “We have wasted enough time on this and it’s high time a decision be made. While we are sleeping, new ports are opening.” 

“It is vital, but there has to be a better way than ruining the coral,” said another respondent. 

“There are practicable methods of mitigation of the environmental risks,” said one person. “Unfortunately, the environmentalist naysayers not only don’t mention those, their doom-and-gloom hype misrepresents the realities and facts of important details in the environmental statement produced by Baird.” 

“A new dock is critical, but the one proposed is not suitable,” said another respondent. “The one proposed is boring, not innovative and damaging to the environment.” 

“Without the cruise ship dock, jobs will be lost,” said someone else. “After 15 years-plus of arguing about it, start building it.” 

“The outline business case never added up,” said one person. “I’m surprised it even went to an environmental impact assessment.” 

“More of the big few getting their way at the expense of the regular people and the environment,” said another person. 

“Pay more attention to the people that come and stay one to four weeks and spend $1,000-$10,000 every year instead of the one-time $100 cruise passenger.” 

“Why do we need it?” asked one person. “That question has not been answered for me yet. It won’t speed up the rate of debarkation. It will destroy a large area of reef and some beautiful and historical dive sites … and cause millions of dollars in lost revenue overall, while only boosting revenue for a small number of businesses. And the long-term effects are yet to be seen. Where is the need in that?” 

“We don’t need it and the risks far outweigh any benefits,” said another person. “The Government needs to focus on the airport and the dump.” 

“Initially I thought we might need it, but after going to the meeting, I think the negatives outweigh the positives and therefore I am against it,” said someone else. “I don’t think making things easier for the day tourists should have to ruin things for the longer-stay tourists and, of course, the residents.” 

“I am not a resident but have been visiting Cayman for 20 years,”said one person. “I have visited islands with the dock and I actually enjoy the tender experience rather than having to see all the concrete when I first arrive. I hope this doesn’t happen.” 

“We need an overall long-term tourism strategy,” said another person. “If cruise piers are part of this long-term strategy, so be it. If a short-term decision has to be made, we should pursue only one pier. Cayman is a small island with a high cost of doing business. We need quality not quantity.” 

“Before we proceed with building a cruise ship dock, the George Town area needs to be revamped,” said someone else. “Closing Harbour Drive to vehicular traffic is a great start.” 

“It’s much better to keep our environment for our children to enjoy than for a few waterfront stores to make a couple dollars,” commented one person. “Those on the waterfront are only concerned about lining their own pockets rather than what will be left for our children and grandchildren to cherish. Find somewhere else to put the dock where not so much destruction will be done or find a way to make the floating dock work.” 

“Anything for a dollar it seems,” said another person. 

“There are more important priorities like airport redevelopment, fixing the George Town dump and completing the John Gray High School campus,” said someone else “The port will be an expensive ecological disaster that directly benefits a few retail merchants. There is no clear national tourism strategy and this proposed project is another knee-jerk reaction by a short-sighted government.” 

“I once thought it was vital, but the adverse affect on the environment changed my mind,” said one person. “Find another location and it is a good idea.” 

“More cruise ship tourists just water down the experiences of our stay-over tourists, our real bread and butter,” said another respondent. 

“Cayman simply does not have the infrastructure to host large numbers of day visitors arriving by ship so targeting Oasis class ships does not make much sense,” said someone else. “We should focus on stay-over visitors who, although smaller in number, spend several times more than the visitors arriving by ship and staying for a few hours. We have positioned Cayman as high-end and exclusive; a far cry from [a] daytime theme park. Considering the environmental concerns in the EIA for the reef/beach and the damage that is evident in Bimini from their dock/dredging projects, we should not have to think too long or too hard about the consequences for Grand Cayman. Consider this: If the almighty dollar was not key to the equation what would we do?” 

Only seven people responded “I don’t know” to the question. 

“The real problem with this project is that it would be such a huge change to the coastline, capital, key industries and everything else that no one, no matter how impressively informed, paid, credentialed or possessed of unlimited free time, can say for certain what it will cause or do to the country, and therefore whether we must have it for the benefits, or must not for the drawbacks,” said one person. “It is all rigid studies, bluffs, conjecture, hobby horses, amateur science, speculation, opinion, constraints, sentimentality, political stubbornness, ultimatums and above all, self-interest. Everybody with plausibly valuable input has a dog in the fight as well. Whatever is done will have expected effects and unexpected effects, and Cayman will change accordingly. I just want to have the issue decided once and for all, and we take what may come as a consequence. Cayman is suffering from ‘big-project fatigue’, and I’m tired of it.” 

Next week’s poll question 

What are your summer vacation plans? [Explain in comments] 

  1. Not taking a summer vacation 
  2. Spending it right here on Grand Cayman 
  3. Traveling to the Sister Islands 
  4. Traveling away from the Cayman Islands 
  5. I don’t live in the Cayman Islands 

To participate in this poll, visit starting July 6. 

This illustration shows the proposed cruise berthing facility in George Town.