December 5, 2020

Bad weather means Spotts storm

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By: Christopher Tobutt and Tad Stoner

Cruise-ship passengers overran Spotts Landing on Tuesday as foul weather prevented tendering in George Town, sending most ships past Cayman altogether, choking off still more tourism revenue.

High winds drove at least two Carnival ships past Cayman, leaving transport companies to tender thousands of passengers from two other ships to cramped facilities at Spotts Landing, where immigration and transport queues behind hurricane fencing topped with barbed-wire turned the area into a prison yard.

Asked about the facilities, one tourist replied: “What else can they do when the seas are so bad? You can either stay on the ship or go along with what they set up.”

Asked if it looked like a prison, he said: “Yep. And look at the long queue to get back on the boat.”

Captain Bryan Ebanks, who oversaw tendering services for five years at the Prospect-based foul-weather harbour, pointed out a growing problem: “Look at what happened. Two ships came in, and every time there is bad weather, the Carnival ships won’t even stop. They just continue to go by.

“Carnival does not want to tender their people at Spotts, and it leaves the question how they are going to get downtown to the stores from there.”

A leading advocate of all-weather docking facilities in Red Bay, Capt Bryan said the proposed docks were less than half the distance from downtown George Town as Spotts Landing.

Even with China Harbour Engineering’s projected $4.2 million of improvements at the pier, “the problem will continue to go on and on and on,” said architect Burns Conolly, another Red Bay supporter.

“The swells in Spotts roll the ships,” he said, underlining that even George Town cruise berths will not eliminate the need for alternative facilities at Spotts.

“It’s very simple, and what I have been saying, even when the ships come in” braving inclement weather, “they do not want to come at all at Spotts.”

Capt Bryan said that even new berths in Hog Sty Bay mean “we still won’t have a safe harbour and we will still be turning ships away, and it’s because of that ‘wheelbarrow mentality’. The [merchants] downtown want to roll things off the ships and right up to their front door. It doesn’t make sense. They are not thinking of what is best for the country.”

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