Barbados enters into joint venture with Royal Caribbean Cruises

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday, September 13, 2012 - A new state-of-the-art cruise terminal expected to cost over US $300 million is being built in Barbados with the capacity to berth some of the world’s largest cruise ships.

Partnering with the Barbados Port Inc on this multi-million dollar joint venture will be Royal Caribbean Cruise Limited, the world’s second largest cruise operator, and Barbadian company SMI Infrastructure Solutions Inc.

Minister of International Transport and International Business, George Hutson, announced these details on the two-year project at the recent Barbados Port Inc.’s 50th anniversary staff awards ceremony.

“If we are going to remain relevant, if we are going to capitalize on the opportunities available from cruise tourism, we must renew our plant from the basic infrastructure currently existing to one which will accommodate and service the increasingly large cruise ships,” Minister Hutson said.

Hutson said the government is banking on the new facility to attract more cruise ships, with a view to increasing the revenue generated from their passengers.

“The number of cruise ship calls have declined as ships have become larger and requiring more dedicated berths with specialised infrastructure,” Hutson said.

Hutson said the project will be done in two phases, the first of which is estimated to cost US $300 million. He said the initial stage will include two cruise piers, arrival and departure facilities, along with parking lots. The proposed Sugar Point Cruise facility will separate cruise and cargo activities, thereby addressing complaint s about the two competing for limited space within the port. The new terminal is expected to include dedicated cruise berths, a commercial retail development, new home-port facilities and ground transportation support along with additional facilities dedicated to the cargo sector.

The development will take involve reclaiming 15 acres of land from the sea, 100,000 square feet of which will be provided for commercial activity. Dredging is slated to begin in November.

A minimum of 200 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, with 500 more added through related commercial activities. Once completed, the facility is also expected to feature Barbados rum and sugar culture as a major theme throughout.

 “The potential benefits to this project reinforces the policy position towards the development of Barbados as a cruise tourism hub and to reposition the country as the leading cruise destination within the southern Caribbean,” Hutson said.

He pointed out that for Barbados to effectively compete with new and emerging tourism markets, it must improve the customer experience and satisfaction.

The facility will bring Bridgetown to cruise passengers, the minister said. He also said that the development would assist Barbados’ efforts to become a hub for cruise tourism.

Cruise tourism in Barbados has grown from just over 127,000 in 1985 to 726,543 last year. The highest number of cruise passengers 812,863 was recorded in 2004.

According to the latest Central Bank of Barbados figures, which are for the first half of this year, the number of cruise passengers rose slightly, by 2.5 percent, although 21 fewer cruise ships visited.

The effort by the government to boost the intake from cruise tourism is in keeping with recommendations from the central bank, which has stressed that the country needs to earn more foreign exchange to register sustainable growth. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)