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The Cayman Islands will owe a huge debt to the world’s largest cruise line, Carnival, as its government finally announced that the country will go forward with a very controversial plan to build cruise ship piers in George Town harbor.  The move will unquestionably help secure the Caymans as a major player in the cruise ship industry and probably rescue the Islands’ struggling economy.

As I reported earlier this summer, the Caymans have been trying for decades to balance maintaining their pristine marine life with meeting the growing competition from neighboring Caribbean ports, like Jamaica and Cuba, by forcing large cruise ships to ferry passengers on tenders in and out of Georgetown.  Tendering passengers is time-consuming, expensive, and on occasion dangerous.   We have represented a number of passengers who have been injured trying to get on and off tender boats in various ports around the world, including Grand Cayman.

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Cayman’s Premier Alden McLaughlin announced Wednesday that Carnival will play a substantial role in the development of the new piers that are expected to cost at least $150 million to build.  Having Carnival’s “skin in the game” will surely guarantee that future Carnival ships and their passengers will continue to dock in Grand Cayman.   Currently, Carnival accounts for roughly 60% of cruise ships visiting Cayman.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is the other major player in Cayman’s cruise industry, but has not released any official statement regarding the announcement or its plans to participate in the costs of building the ports.

The Caymanian Cabinet has yet to formally ratify the decision to proceed with the port project, but this is anticipated to occur sometime in October 2015.  The Caymans intend to charge around $5 per passenger, and a share of the $14 “head tax” collected by the Port Authority on every cruise passenger who comes through the new terminal.

As a cruise ship passenger injury attorney, I applaud the Cayman Islands’ decision finally to approve the building of the ports, primarily because I believe the ports will provide a much needed safer way to transport passengers to and from the ships.  The concept of loading and unloading passengers on bobbing and bumpy small tender boats was a recipe for disaster that often prevented elderly and incapacitated passengers from even attempting to disembark in ports such as George Town.

Typically when we investigated a claim for an injury that occurred on a tender boat, the cruise lines would try to defend the claim by stating that the tenders were operated by local independent contractors over which the cruise line did not have control.

We have also heard horror stories of elderly terrified passengers left behind by their cruise ships in foreign countries, in various hospitals, or in emergency rooms seeking medical care.  We have received many calls from passengers who have found themselves alone with no means of returning home, their possessions gone, and no help offered by the cruise line in terms of booking flights or transportation.  I think this move at a minimum will help minimize tender boat accidents as well as allow more people to get on and off the ship safely and comfortably.

I suggest that the new Grand Cayman Islands port, as well as George Town, be made compliant with all ADA requirements so that passengers in wheelchairs and with other assistive devices, like motorized scooters, can explore the Island safely.

 INJURED ON A CRUISE TO THE CAYMAN ISLANDS

Our maritime personal injury law firm has aggressively and successfully represented passengers who have been injured while on cruises around the world.  Most cruise lines–including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian–require that personal injury claims be filed against them, within one year of the date of incident, in Miami’s Federal Court, regardless of where in the world the accident occurred.

If you have been injured on a cruise, we recommend that you contact our office immediately for a free initial legal consultation.  We offer consultations Toll Free at 1-866-597-4529, by email at [email protected], or by SKYPE.  Call us today.