Cruise passengers set record
A record in cruise passengers – nearly 4.8 million – sailed through PortMiami last year.
That’s a 17% gain from 2013, when about 4.08 million came through, according to PortMiami. Passengers are counted twice, when they board and when they disembark.
PortMiami attributes the increase to the addition of two new cruise ships.
MSC Cruises, based in Switzerland, began sailing its MSC Divina from the port. Also, Norwegian Cruise Lines, based in Miami-Dade, started sailing its Norwegian Getaway, which can accommodate nearly 4,000 passengers.
While passenger traffic hit a record, cargo loads dipped. Last year, 877,000 TEUs, an industry measurement indicating a 20-foot long standard cargo container, came through the port. That’s 2.7% less than the number handled in 2013.
“It’s definitely not a significant drop,” said Kevin Lynskey, PortMiami deputy director.
Over the past decade, port cargo throughput has been 800,000 to 1 million TEUs, he said. The port has lost some of the market partly because ports in the Gulf of Mexico have worked to capture some of that cargo.
“Florida has had an extremely strong presence in all the Caribbean Americas straits for decades, almost unnaturally high, and competing ports have spent a lot of time going after that business,” Mr. Lynskey said.
But, he added, PortMiami will soon catch up – and surpass the 1 million TEUs mark in the next five years.
“That’s not just due to the Panama Canal expansion but we’re seeing some growth in our carriers,” he said. “We’re getting containers from lines that have not been here for a few years, and then we are seeing our existing carriers start to pick up traffic a little bit.”
“I really think,” he added, “it’s only in the next half decade when we will leave a million [TEUs] behind.”