7 March 2022
Starting on 14 March, 35 people living in the eastern districts of Grand Cayman will have the ability to avoid most of the morning and evening traffic heading into George Town by riding in the comfort of a commuter ferry to Camana Bay.
The commuter ferry service will run Mondays through Fridays, except public holidays, leaving the Newlands public dock at 7:15 a.m. and returning at 5:15 p.m. The trips will take 25 minutes each.
The service is being offered by Cayman Ferries Ltd., which was founded in September 2020 when it purchased the 35-foot Gnautic GKat 3500 catamaran from Captain Marvin's Watersports, which used it to run a ferry service between Camana Bay and Cayman Kai in North Side.
The commuter service is the idea of the husband-and-wife team of Daniel Petts and Claire Pettinati, owners of Cayman Ferries Ltd. and the Kaibo restaurants.
Shortly after moving to the Cayman Islands in 2004 and experiencing first-hand how long it took to get from North Side to George Town in the morning traffic, Pettinati became involved in a "boat share" arrangement with others who also wanted to avoid the long commute over Grand Cayman's congested roads.
"We used several operators to go back and forth and Captain Marvin's was one of those companies," she said, adding that the idea that Grand Cayman needed a boat solution to alleviate vehicular traffic grew from there. When the opportunity to buy the boat from Captain Marvin's arose, Petts and Pettinati decided to try and do something about Cayman's traffic woes.
In some ways, it's a leap of faith.
"You have to believe that if you take some small steps that make some small differences, that eventually it can make a bigger difference."
It is hoped that through the Cayman Ferries efforts, other private sector entities will join in an effort to create solutions to the gridlock on the roads. Once commuters arrive in Camana Bay, if they don't work there, they already have options such as Cycle Cayman, Bird Scooters and the ZÜN car share service to help them get elsewhere in George Town or along the Seven Mile Beach corridor.
Pettinati made it clear that the impetus behind the commuter service isn't commercial and that it will be operated like a non-profit organisation.
"We have no intention to make a profit from this, but we do have the intent to grow it," she said. "We will give any surplus back to other community projects."
To start with, Cayman Ferries will offer only the one morning and afternoon trip to and from Camana Bay and the Newlands public dock.
"The plan is to eventually run the service two times daily, but only once at the launch until there's enough demand," Pettinati said.
When added, the second trips will leave Newlands an hour later in the morning and leave Camana Bay an hour earlier in the afternoon.
The even longer term vision is to acquire a second boat that would allow for service to Cayman Kai as well. In the meantime, Cayman Ferries will continue offering the transportation service between Camana Bay and Cayman Kai on weekends.
The standard one-way ticket price on Cayman Ferries is CI$12.
By buying weekly, monthly or annual passes, commuters can reduce the costs of the trips to $12 per round trip with weekly passes, $5.98 per round trip with monthly passes or $4.15 per round trip with annual passes.
Tickets can be purchased on the Cayman Ferries App, through which passengers can view the ferry schedule, book their seat and pay for their ride. Once booked for a particular time, the seat is guaranteed.
To introduce residents to the new service, Cayman Ferries will offer one-way trips at CI$6, or half the regular price, through 29 April by entering JOINTHERIDE in the section on the App that says "apply promotion code."
As Cayman Ferries takes its leap of faith in an effort to create one solution to Grand Cayman's traffic problems, it hopes it can get other companies to join the ride in a different way: through sponsorships. In return, sponsors would get advertising presence on the Cayman Ferries App with direct links to their website and other benefits. The sponsorship also presents an opportunity for companies to embrace corporate social responsibilities or meet ESG criteria.
Three tiers of annual sponsorships are offered, starting at CI$5,000 and going up to CI$50,000.
"We encourage the private sector to join the ride to make Cayman more like the world we should be living in," said Pettinati.
For more information, email email@example.com or send a WhatsApp message to (345) 325-7777.
This article was originally featured in the March 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.
About the author
Alan Markoff has worked with Dart as the editor for Camana Bay Times for five years and has been writing professionally since 1997. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alan graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English, and first moved to the Cayman Islands in 1982. He has 18 years of experience in the real estate industry and previously worked as a journalist for the Cayman Compass before joining Dart to relaunch the Camana Bay Times monthly newspaper. Alan is passionate about food and wine and he loves to write about both those subjects. He is also the leader of Grand Cayman’s Slow Food Chapter. One of Alan’s favourite ways to relax is to catch a film at Camana Bay Cinema. It was at one of these movies that he met his wife, Lynn!