MSC Cruises Is Coming to the Cayman Islands
MSC Cruises will soon join three other major cruise companies in a pledge to finance a proper pier in the Cayman Islands in lieu of a tender port. The islands are convinced that the addition of MSC Cruises will contribute to the longevity of the enticing spot's reputation as a cruise destination.
MSC Cruises officials signed a letter of intent with the Cayman government providing that the cruise port project will receive $15 million in funding from the cruise line. The cruise companies that will operate within the port — Royal Caribbean Cruises (parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara and three other brands); Carnival Corp. (parent company of Carnival Cruises, Princess, Holland America and others); Disney Cruise Line and MSC Cruises — have committed to collectively contributing $180 million toward the project.
According to Alden McLaughlin, the country’s premier, the agreement outlined that "the finance [is] to be provided by whichever entity is eventually selected as the preferred bidder on the project," meaning that no public funding will be required for the piers.
The public/private partnership is part of what leads McLaughlin to believe that the mutual investment in the piers will allow the cruise lines to be dedicated to Cayman. "As well as strengthening the project’s financing structure, having cruise companies financially vested in the project provides assurance that [Cayman] finances will not be exposed to risk and is a positive indication of their commitment to our islands for decades to come," said McLaughlin.
“Cruise lines will be repaid from a portion of the per-passenger fee that they remit to the port authority each time they are in port,” he said. “This underscores that the only way they can benefit from their investment is to continue using the facility.”
Moses Kirkconnell, the Cayman Islands’ tourism minister, added that he believes that the agreement will, in turn, maintain the Cayman Islands' strong position as a cruise destination.
While some parties are seemingly excited about the agreement, not everyone is on board, per se. A group of Cayman Island locals who oppose the project, Cruise Port Referendum Cayman, have started a petition with over 5,000 signatures to stop the project.
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Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify the plans for the dock at Cayman and the companies involved with the project.