Mix of excitement, skepticism greets proposal
A proposal to use cable cars to transport cruise passengers into George Town would need buy-in from cruise lines to be a workable option for the port, according to campaign group Cayman’s Port, Cayman’s Future.
Kirk Freeport boss Chris Kirkconnell, one of the key figures in the group advocating for piers in George Town, said the new concept is an exciting idea if it turns out to be feasible.
However, he said the idea, put forward by a group headed by James Eldon Whittaker Jr. of GreenTech, would not work without the endorsement of the major cruise lines.
“It is exciting to see the pictures and it is amazing that someone is thinking outside the box and trying to find a solution that, theoretically at least, checks all the boxes,” said Mr. Kirkconnell.
“It doesn’t need my approval. I think what they need now is to take it to the cruise lines themselves and to get their feedback. Find out if they are interested in using it and if they will invest in it.
“If they are, and it is feasible and affordable, then he is home free. Our group is not dedicated to any particular form or type of cruise berthing. We know tendering is not the future for the industry and we want the best solution we can get.”
He said if cable cars could provide similar speed of disembarkation to berthing, then it would be worth looking at.
Cayman’s Port, Cayman’s Future, which also involves leading figures from the Turtle Farm, water-based tour operators and other businesses that service cruise passengers, insists the main advantage of cruise berthing is the additional time it gives passengers in the Cayman Islands compared to tendering.
The cable car concept has also been cautiously welcomed by rival campaign group Save Cayman.
Keith Sahm, general manager of Sunset House and one of the leaders of the group campaigning against a dock, said any solution that prevents damage to the reefs would be worth considering. But he questioned whether it would be workable in Cayman’s climate and if it could be resistant to storms.
“If it can do everything he [Mr. Whittaker] says it can do, then great. I personally don’t want to throw out any type of alternative, even using the tenders in a more upgraded capacity.
“One thing we really like about the cable car idea is that it takes away the need for dredging, which is a real plus.”
James Whittaker, the CEO of Next Development, and James Whittaker, the writer of this article, are not related.