Expanding to meet future demand

With expansion plans and confirmed funding for the next five years, the future looks bright for PortMiami
Expanding to meet future demand

By Sean Dudley |

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

When it comes to convenient locations to access a host of luxurious cruise destinations, few places beat Miami, Florida.

As well as being a bustling metropolitan hub in its own right, when it comes to cruising, Miami is a natural gateway from the US to the Caribbean.

This combination of factors means PortMiami sees millions of passengers pass through its doors each year. In order to accommodate for such numbers and ensure that every passenger has a pleasant experience, significant investment has been made to expand PortMiami. The aim is not only to enhance the visitor experience, but for the port to be better placed to welcome the largest ships on the market.

In June 2016, a new deal was announced between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and PortMiami owners Miami-Dade County to construct and operate a new cruise terminal at the port. The new terminal will serve as a homeport for Royal Caribbean International ships, including a 5,400-passenger Oasis-class ship. Regarding the announcement of the new terminal, Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., says: “We are truly excited to be working with Miami-Dade County and PortMiami to create not just another cruise terminal, but a truly iconic building. This new terminal is a symbol of our commitment to Miami, the city where our company first started almost 50 years ago. We can’t wait to bring an Oasis-class ship to PortMiami.”

Not only will the terminal boost Miami’s cruise operations, but the new addition will have significant economic benefits for the city and Miami-Dade County.

“This public-private partnership will have an estimated economic impact of US$500 million and generate approximately 4,000 jobs,” says Carlos A. Gimenez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County. “Royal Caribbean has been an important part of our world-class community for almost 50 years, and this expansion will once again make PortMiami Royal Caribbean’s largest cruise port in the world. I thank the company for its continued investment in and commitment to Miami-Dade.”

PortMiami currently welcomes around 750,000 Royal Caribbean passengers each year, comprising approximately 15% of its overall traffic. Once completed, the new terminal is expected to bring that number up to around 1.8 million passengers.

Royal Caribbean’s faith in PortMiami goes beyond the new terminal however, with the company building a 20,000 square foot Innovation Lab at its corporate headquarters, which are located at the port. This lab will be used to help generate new vessels for the company, and represents an investment of around US$20 million.

While new additions are in progress at PortMiami, enhancements to existing facilities are also taking place. In November 2016, work commenced on the renovation and expansion of PortMiami’s Cruise Terminal F. Once the project is completed, Terminal F will serve the cruise industry’s new generation of cruise vessels, including MSC Cruises’ MSC Seaside, which is scheduled to sail year-round from Miami from December 2017. Following the expansion, Terminal F will be able to process more than 5,000 cruise passengers at a time.

The growth of the port is set to continue following the news that US$33 million in state grants has been allocated to PortMiami over the next five years. These funds will be used to assist with the expansion of Terminal F, but will also be spent on three additional Super-Post-Panamax cranes, and enhancement to the port’s cargo facilities.

“I want to thank our state and local leaders for their support in securing the US$33 million in future state grant allocations for PortMiami,” says Gimenez. “Our port is a vital economic engine for not only Miami-Dade County, but all of South Florida and its continued growth represents thousands of jobs and increased opportunities for our community.”

It’s clear that PortMiami is in a position to enhance its offering, and the port is taking the necessary step to ensure that the facilities are in place to meet the demand and create positive experiences for the millions of passengers that pass through its doors.

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