The Cayman Islands may be getting closer to a long-awaited dedicated cruise berth as goverment officials announced the Verdant Isle group as the preferred bidder for the project, which is expected to carry a $240 million price tag.
The group includes Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises as well as a number of local companies.
Local reports said the project would be funded through capital from the two cruise lines and a loan from FirstCaribbean International Bank. Government officials stressed they would not provide loans or guarantees, and added that China Harbour was not a preferred bidder.
“This is a moment that the majority of the people in our Islands have been aiming to get to for at least 20 years if not longer. Certainly, every Government elected since 2000 has had promises of a cruise port in their election manifesto or as part of their delivery plans,” said Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, MBE, JP, MLA, in prepared remarks.
McLaughlin went on to explain the cruise facility would see no one single major cruise company controlling it, but “instead one that will be managed and owned by the Port Authority on behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands,” he said.
If the project goes ahead, so will an adjusted $8 per head passenger fee for cruise guests.
A referendum on the project is expected to follow as the port development is a hot topic for residents.
There were three bidders for the project, which is poised to encompass both a cruise and cargo facility.