Survey: Berthing would improve experience for most cruise ship visitors

To view the full special report from the Cayman Compass on the cruise dock debate, visit the Compass Data Desk. 

Over two-thirds of cruise ship passengers surveyed by the Cayman Compass think cruise berthing piers in Grand Cayman would improve or enhance their cruise experience here.

A total of 87 cruise passengers were surveyed on July 23 from the Carnival Magic, Carnival Glory and Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas, which were moored in George Town harbor.

The three ships collectively carried some 12,000 passengers.

After mooring, passengers were ferried to shore in tender boats. Those surveyed rated the experience relatively highly, especially considering the number of passengers who indicated a preference for a berthing pier.

Asked to rate their arrival on the tender boats on a scale of 1 to 10, passengers gave the experience an average rating of 7.7; and 44.8 percent of the respondents gave the boats a perfect 10.

When asked to comment on what aspect of the tender boats they liked the least, most people were dissatisfied with the length of time it took to get to and from the ship (31.5 percent) and with the lines of people waiting to board (45.2 percent). Very few people stated that they did not like the actual experience of riding the tender boats, indicating that the problem lies with organization and planning rather than the use of the tender boats themselves.

Fourteen passengers listed multiple options for the question of which aspect of the tendering experience they liked the least, and were left out of the final tally for that reason. Of these 14 passengers, popular options included long wait times and the lines of passengers waiting for tender boats.

For Anthony Lunn, a passenger from the Bahamas, the main problem was the fact that there were “so few tenders for the amount of people on the ships.”

Another passenger, Elizabeth Seaborne, was making her second trip to the Cayman Islands. She believes the problem lies in the communication between the port and the cruise ships.

“The tenders are fine. However, I would recommend additional tenders or the cruise line to fix their process,” said Ms. Seaborne, who is a diver. “It took an unreasonable amount of time to get on the tender as a result of Carnival’s lack of coordination/planning.”

Many passengers were in the pro-pier camp, citing additional “freedom” they provide. The ability to freely get on and off the ship as well as the ability to have more time in port were comments that appeared multiple times in the survey.

One such comment came from Carnival Glory passenger Elizabeth Pagan, who said, “I really feel like [having berthing piers] would be a good idea and would bring more attraction to the island, especially for those who are afraid of small boats.”

Tamika Burton is pro-pier because, in her experience, berthing piers were generally faster.

Not everyone was pro-pier.

Jessica Burks and Gary Tanner, a couple visiting on Carnival Magic, were adamant that they would not support the addition of berthing piers for the ships and had no problems with the tender boats. “I loved the experience,” Ms. Burks said. “Do not change anything.”

Despite the general dissatisfaction with the way in which the tenders are organized and operated, an overwhelming 67.8 percent of the surveyed passengers said the lack of a pier would not prevent them from returning to the island in the future. An average rating of 8.6 was given when passengers were asked to rate their overall Grand Cayman cruise ship visit experience on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest. This indicates that most passengers managed to have an enjoyable experience despite their grievances with the tenders.

To view the full special report from the Cayman Compass on the cruise dock debate, visit the Compass Data Desk. 

Jessica Burks and Gary Tanner line up to reboard Carnival Magic.

Jessica Burks and Gary Tanner line up to reboard Carnival Magic.

Tamika Burton stands in front of Kirk Freeport after arriving on Carnival Magic.

Tamika Burton stands in front of Kirk Freeport after arriving on Carnival Magic.

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