Cape Liberty Parkers Get Paint Splash

September 13, 2005
Does your car need a new paint job? Apparently, hundreds of cruise travelers who parked their cars at Bayonne's Cape Liberty find that theirs most certainly do. These folks, who used the lot at the port to travel on a handful of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity voyages this summer, returned home to find their car dusted with a strange overlay of paint spray.

Cruise Critic Member Carla Israel tipped us off to this burgeoning problem which came to a head when some 300 folks who were onboard cruises on August 27 and 28 -- and thus whose cars were in the facility operated by Central Parking System -- began reporting the damage to Royal Caribbean.

In a nutshell, the problem has nothing to do with Royal Caribbean's port facility -- and everything to do with the Bayonne Drydock Company, which handles (mostly) military ship refurbishment projects and is located some 300 ft., as the crow flies, from Cape Liberty. Turns out, according to Bayonne Drydock Company, that when spray painting these military vessels the wind would occasionally carry paint over to cars parked at the cruise port. While some precautions are taken by the company to reduce or eliminate traveling paint spray, on the particularly problematic dates in August, gusts blew harder than anticipated -- and a $30,000 protection system of tarps and wires tore, allowing the paint to travel onward.

Despite a disclaimer on all parkers' Central Parking System (not related to either the cruise line or dry-dock facility) tickets decrying any role in refunds for damages, Bayonne Drydock has stepped up and taken responsibility.

Those folks whose cars are covered with overspray from Cape Liberty should first contact Ken Peterson or Gloria Argul at 201-823-9296 to register a claim. Folks living near Bayonne Drydock are then invited to bring their cars to that pier, where the company has hired Florida-based Professor Overspray, a company specializing in professionally cleaning cars. Those travelers who live outside the area are then directed to Bayonne Drydock's insurance agency, which will line up a more convenient facility.

Peterson says that some 300 folks have contacted him and provided the necessary verification of cruise passage, contact information and car details. A professional damage estimate is not required but, he says, is helpful. So far he says estimates have ranged from a bargain basement $90 to a whopping $5,277 and the “true reasonable range is between $175 and $450" (here's a hint: this type of damage does not impact bodywork).

In the meantime, the company has worked with Royal Caribbean to find a solution to the problem. On Peterson's end, the company has changed protocols that limit spray painting to morning work (because the southern breeze that carries the paint to Cape Liberty typically starts up in early afternoon). At that time the dockyard workers will switch to the more time-consuming paint-rolling. In addition, tarps will be used.

Peterson also will give Royal Caribbean plenty of advance notice before undertaking paint jobs on big military ships -- thus giving the cruise line time to rearrange parking patterns.