New Cruise Port project will take 30 months to build
Moses Kirkconnell, Minister for District Administration, Tourism and Transport, and Chief Officer Stran Bodden presented details of the proposed cruise berthing and cargo improvement project to Council members last week.
And they revealed that construction is estimated to take 30 months, subject to delays caused by weather events.
During the two-hour presentation, Minister Kirkconnell explained the process that has led to the selection of the successful bidder, Verdant Isle Port Partners. Verdant Isle Port Partners includes McAlpine Ltd., Orion Marine Construction, Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and financing for the project will be provided by First Caribbean International Bank (Cayman) Ltd. and will be financed by a 60/40 debt to equity ratio.
Some highlights from the presentation were:
- Cabinet approved a construction bid of CI$196.529 million. This will include CI$10 million for coral relocation in the affected area and CI$20 million for the upgrade of the cargo port, which includes a third berth for cargo vessels.
- The new piers will include four berths for Oasis class cruise ships and can be used for other class cruise vessels. The Oasis class attracts the highest spending per passenger. Ships can accommodate up to 6,000 guests including crew.
- The piers will be constructed on concrete pilings to minimise dredging and will allow the sea to pass underneath without interruption. The piers will measure 22 meters in width and will allow two cruise ships to dock alongside - which is like other ports with similar piers.
- 30% less dredging is estimated compared to the original proposal for the site. There will be no dredging in Hog Sty Bay. A clam shell dredge will be used to minimum siltation in the affected area. Silt screens will be erected surrounding the affected area.
- A world-renowned expert will be contracted to manage the coral relocation. Coral removed from the affected area will be relocated to a site adjacent to the George Town cemetery.
- The current Royal Watler Terminal buildings (not the Port Authority offices) will be removed, including the two-storey building near the road and the restrooms, restaurant and shops. New single-storey buildings will be constructed and will be designed to provide a more enjoyable and inviting walking path from the piers into George Town. Trees will be planted. Seating and shading features will be incorporated. Parking for licenced tour bus operators will be positioned inside the facility closer to the piers to allow cruise passengers who have booked shore excursions to load the tour buses on site. Public restrooms will be increased. The new buildings will incorporate border protection and customs processing facilities.
- Construction is estimated to take 30 months, subject to delays caused by weather events. Contingencies will be incorporated into the final agreement.
- The Ministry has had initial negotiations with the cruise lines to spread the arrival of cruise ships throughout the week. This will greatly assist Government and local businesses to improve the experience for cruise passengers and will provide a more sustainable approach to managing the cruise tourism experience.
- Using the 4 berths throughout the week will provide 28 slots with 26 of the 28 berthing slots being allocated to Royal Caribbean (11), Carnival Cruise Lines (11), Disney (2) and MSC Cruise lines (2). Two berthing slots will be available for other vessels.
- Minister Kirkconnell said Cabinet has approved $20 million for roads development as a priority across the islands. Some of this money will be allocated for upgrades to connector roads in George Town (Bodden Road) from the port to allow for improved traffic flows and access to the cargo distribution centre and West Bay Road.
- During construction period, tenders will unload at the cargo dock which is currently being done during busy cruise ship days.
- The finance model being used for the project is unique and has not been used before for any cruise port development project according to Minister Kirkconnell.
- A scoping report for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be carried out in September.
- The next steps will include finalising of reserve matters with the Verdant Isles, recommending the EIA process, finalising an early works agreement, developing a Caucus presentation on contract award and submitting the contract award for Cabinet consideration.