Rough seas in and around George Town harbor have forced cruise ships with thousands of passengers to drop anchor in the calmer waters of the southern coast of Cayman over the past two days.

Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Equinox and Carnival Dream slipped into Spotts cruise terminal early Thursday morning, letting off a total of 9,348 cruise ship passengers. Another ship, MSC Opera, bypassed the island.

On Wednesday, the Norwegian Epic, ferrying 4,100 passengers, stopped at the Spotts terminal, while the Disney Fantasy missed its call.

The thousands of passengers and the many tour buses transporting them from the dock slowed early morning commuters as they made their way to George Town Thursday.

Police officers were on duty at Spotts to keep an eye on proceedings and to safely direct the passengers across the busy, two-lane highway.

The diversion of the ships from George Town to Spotts comes as Cayman experiences a cold front that is expected to last through the weekend. Allan Ebanks, a forecaster for the Cayman Islands National Weather Service, said waves reaching four to six feet in height have hit three of Grand Cayman’s four coasts.

“We have a direct north wind, so the north, east and west coasts will be mostly affected,” said Mr. Ebanks on Thursday. “On the south side, there’s little to no wave height … at all.”

Cruise ship tourists browse a stall at Spotts Dock Thursday morning. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

The National Weather Service has issued a small craft advisory for operating in open waters. The west coast of Grand Cayman, in particular, may experience some swells. The windy conditions are expected to intensify later this weekend.

“Tradewinds are normally out of the east at about 10-15 knots, so we get waves of about three to five feet,” Mr. Ebanks said. “On an occasion like this, we’ve got northerly winds at about 15-20 knots behind these cold fronts, so we get wave heights of about four to six feet. On Saturday and Sunday, we could be looking at 20-25 knot winds, so at that point in time, we’re expecting wave heights of five to seven feet.”

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.