Cruise NewsCoral Reef in Cayman Islands Crushed by Cruise Ship Anchor

Coral Reef in Cayman Islands Crushed by Cruise Ship Anchor

The Cayman Compass is reporting that the Carnival Magic mistakenly dropped anchor in an unauthorized zone damaging pristine live coral in Georgetown, Grand Cayman on Wednesday.

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Tim Austin, the deputy director of the Department of Environment, said that due to the size of the large anchor, damage was significant. Live coral and sediment were crushed under the heavy weight of the anchor.

The DoE said that the Carnival Magic was guided by pilot boats to anchor outside of the designated areas.  There are four areas designated for cruise ships to anchor where no coral will be damaged.

The live coral in these areas has been long destroyed over the years with ships coming in to anchor at the Caribbean island.

The Marine Conservation Law states that it is an offense for any boaters to damage live coral reefs off the coast of the Cayman Islands.  The DoE’s website encourages boaters to use public moorings.

Tim Austin went on to say:

“Coral is already under a threat by a myriad of impacts, from climate changes to human impact.

The impact of losing any live coral has a big knock-on affect. Coral is very slow growing and it will take five to six decades to put back what was lost in a few hours yesterday.”

The Port Authority’s cruise operations and security manager said that the port pilot directs the ships to the anchorage point and tells them exactly where to drop anchor.

Strong winds have been blamed for the reason why the cruise ship was over 200 yards outside of the proper anchor zone.

Workers at Don Foster’s Dive Shop noticed that the Carnival Magic was anchored in an area where cruise ships never dock.   After notifying the Port Authority, they had divers sent down to see if any damage was done to the reef.  They look several pictures of the anchor and chains sitting on the damaged reef.

By noon, the ship was moved to an area safe for anchoring.

Photo Credit: Don Foster’s Dive Shop

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise NewsCoral Reef in Cayman Islands Crushed by Cruise Ship Anchor


  1. To Captain Jack. I have been on numerous cruises, all with Carnival as no other line even comes close. The captain of the ship is not in control within a certain area of all ports. The pilot boat captain is in charge of docking the ship and debarking the ship. Everyone that has worked on the bridge on cruise ships and those that have taken numerous cruises know this. CCL is not at fault. The fault is with the incompetent pilot boat captain and the Port Authority for thinking the pilot boat captain was ready to bring in a 130,000 ton ship.

    • The article says the winds led the captain to anchor 200 meters outside of zone #4. This tells me its an incompetent captain or he was having a bad hair day.

  2. Its obvious that CCL wasn’t responsible for the accident. But unfortunately, cruise lines are going to take the heat for it anyway.

  3. This isn’t actually CCL’s fault. The boats are told where to anchor by pilots, who are not employees of Carnival but rather the Port!!!!

    • Yes CCL is at fault. The anchorage areas are well documented. The Captain knows of the 4 anchorages. The Port job is to assign the anchorage spot. The job of the captain to place his ship in the proper place. Its the captains ultimate responsibility of operating the ship regardless what the pilot suggest.

  4. oh dear! I know CCL will make step up to the plate regarding this unfortunate accident which was cause by Mother Nature.

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