Port Miami plans revolutionary cruise terminal
By Scott Blake
Port Miami has been tops in the cruise industry for as long as anyone can remember.
Miami-Dade County's seaport has drawn the most cruise passengers of any port worldwide for about 45 years, said Kevin Lynskey, Port Miami's assistant director for business initiatives.
He and other Port Miami managers plan to keep it that way, currently spending roughly $18 million to upgrade two cruise terminals. And they have plans to spend millions more on future terminal projects.
On the drawing board is a huge multi-berth terminal complex that Mr. Lynskey said would boast a "revolutionary design."
Cruise lines are continuously looking for the best terminals that offer good logistics for moving passengers and baggage in and out smoothly, as well as aesthetics.
Port Miami drew a record 4.15 million cruise passengers in 2010, according to the latest statistics available. Each passenger is counted twice — when they board and again when they disembark.
Mr. Lynskey said that number is projected to increase to 4.5 million in two years, with the addition of three cruise lines and several new cruise ships slated to come to Miami.
Much of Port Miami's success is due to location: it's the closest full-fledged US seaport to the Caribbean, which long has been the industry's largest market. But without offering good facilities, a lot of that business could slip away to Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale or to other seaports in the South.
With that in mind, Port Miami is currently spending some $15 million on improvements to Cruise Terminal D, said Hydi Webb, the port's manager of business initiatives.
The work includes expanding Terminal D by 1,800 square feet, and building new facilities for security screening, passenger check-ins and a "VIP" area, she said.
Carnival Cruise Lines had been using Terminal D, but has had its operations there temporarily moved to Terminal G, Ms. Webb said.
The work on Terminal D is largely being done for the arrival of the new Carnival Breeze in November for year-round Caribbean voyages, she said.
The Breeze went into service last month, operating out of Barcelona and Venice on Mediterranean cruises, but is to be repositioned in Miami in the fall. The 1,004-foot-long ship has a double occupancy capacity of 3,690 passengers.
In addition, Port Miami has been making $3 million in renovations and dockside improvements to Terminal J, a so-called "boutique" terminal designed for smaller cruise ships at the southwest end of the port.
The work is being done to accommodate Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas. Regent, which now operates out of Port Everglades, is to join Oceania at Terminal J in the fall.
Ms. Webb said the first phase of improvements to Terminal J has been completed, and the second phase is underway. Work includes new carpeting, new counters, new seating and a new elevator.
"A lot of it is aesthetics," she said.
That work pales in comparison to a terminal project being proposed as part of Port Miami's Master Plan. East of where the major terminals are located on the north side of the port is the site designated for a "multi-berth" terminal complex of the future, Mr. Lynskey said.
The concept was spelled out in Port Miami's Master Plan through 2035. The plan calls for a "terminal complex" approach, instead of the conventional one terminal/one berth model.
A terminal complex would link or combine various terminals and berths with a common baggage-handling and screening system, plus an air-conditioned 1,400-foot walkway. The approach, the report states, would save substantial real estate on Dodge Island.
Mr. Lynskey said a main goal of a terminal complex would be to offer two or three additional 1,200-foot cruise ship berths. He said port officials would look to finance at least some of the improvements, which potentially could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, through public-private partnerships.
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