A newspaper in the Cayman Islands reports that the Carnival Magic cruise ship severely damaged a pristine coral reef when it anchored in an unauthorized zone near George Town on Wednesday,

The newspaper quotes the deputy director of the Cayman’s Department of Environment saying that “the impact where the anchor landed was very severe; there was a lot of crushed live coral and sediment.”

The newspaper says that local pilot boats operated by Bodden Shipping Agency guided the Carnival cruise ship to anchor outside of the designated public port anchorage.

There’s no mention whether the tourism dependent island will fine either the cruise line or the shipping agency.

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Coral Reef Cayman Islands

Photo Credit: Don Foster’s Dive Cayman via Cayman Compass 


  • William

    No problem, the coral reef will be fine in another 2,000 years.

  • Cynni

    How is this Carnival’s fault if they were guided by Port approved ship guides? Bodden should have to pay any and all fines.

  • tinikini

    If you are going to sail or play in the ocean you need to understand it before you go. As a scuba diver this just sickens me. Marine life, plants and coral are so sensitive to touch, pollution, etc. that it kills some of them and takes, as William said, thousands of years to recover. It is bad enough when a massive hurricane hits the reefs and tears them up, without the dumbass cruise lines and local, dumbass pilot boats tearing them up as well. This is one of those times, I guess, where you have to say, you just can not fix stupid!!!!!

  • The master of the cruise ship could have and should have refused to drop anchor in Grand Cayman. He should have used the dynamic positioning capability of the cruise ship while determining whether there was coral reefs present.

  • Steve

    Does the master yield command of the ship to the pilot when in local waters? I’ve been on many cruises and wondered about this.

  • Gabs

    As Jim said, the Captain still has authority. You can use it or suspend critical thinking and go for the Nuremberg defense.

  • Daniel

    This is exclusively the fault of Bodden Shipping. Pilot agencies are created and required specifically for this purpose. Whether a cruise ship, tanker, cargo, military, etc. is coming into port, it is solely responsibility of the port pilots to guide these vessels as they are the most qualified and familiar with the port’s topography and area restrictions.

    This is an unfortunate event for carnival cruise lines. Yet again there is an extreme failure that was completely out of there control. No matter to the major social media hubs though as they love to capitalize on anything they can against this company. Don’t agree? Do your homework on each of the reports made by the major news networks against carnival within the last two years alone.

  • It is not the sole fault of the shipping agency. The cruise line also bears responsibility.

  • Capt Ed Enos

    The Port is suffering from issues with their pilots, have been for months. As far as i know, it is unresolved. They had many pilots leave the service and the few that remained could not manage all the traffic at the port. Therefore, the first question is, who was the individual referred to as the “pilot”?? Or did the ship simply follow a boat (supposedly) with a pilot aboard directing them to the anchorage? As a pilot, i would inform your readers that the Pilot is there aboard the ship SPECIFICALLY to avoid this exact accident. Thus, the question of whether a pilot was aboard the ship or if the ship was following a boat….which is NOT unusual in many 3rd world foreign ports where cruise ships call. (Unlike the US, Canada, and Europe where a real Pilot goes aboard ship to direct the movements). In any case, the Master of the ship (any ship) always has ultimate responsibility for the vessel’s safety. Again, if there were no pilot actually on the ship, the Master and his officers should have been plotting the ship’s position every few minutes and noted they were NOT supposed to be where they were told to go. If there was ANY doubt, the Master was obliged to ask! THAT is the rule everywhere at all times. I suspect the ‘person’ directing the ship to an anchorage was in error. I also believe based on the obvious result, the Master blindly followed the directions without any question and dropped anchor in the wrong spot. I suspect there may have been doubt among some of the other (younger) officers on the bridge…but understanding their culture (I have handled many carnival ships in my 20 years as a pilot), the younger officers would NEVER question the Captain. THIS is precisely what lead to the COSTA CONCORDIA incident. Most importantly for readers, this somewhat minor incident proves beyond a reasonably doubt….years after the CONCORDIA accident, we haven’t learned one thing, have we? Onboard most cruise ships, its STILL “business as usual!”

  • HT Rabin

    Oh please these Cruise ships all have GPS, even their phones would have shown them they were in a reserve area. They are just as responsible as the port authority authorized docking company and should BOTH pay restitution. More importantly the monies levied by the fines need to go DIRECTLY TO RESTORING THE REEF as well as reef restoration research and not into a bogus political money chest!