Last updated: 04:30 PM ET, Tue October 27 2015

St. Kitts Officials: We Will Build Cruise Ship Pier on Our Own

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | October 27, 2015

St. Kitts Officials: We Will Build Cruise Ship Pier on Our Own

PHOTO: St. Kitts will not seek cruise line help to build a second pier at Port Zante, pictured, said the country’s tourism minister. (Photo courtesy of the St. Kitts Tourism Board).

Several Caribbean destinations are partnering with cruise lines to build new piers and passenger terminals, but that process won’t be repeated in St. Kitts, the country’s tourism minister said recently.

In a radio address last week, St. Kitts’ Lindsay Grant said his administration will not seek cruise line assistance to build the country’s new $31 million cruise ship pier, construction of which he said will begin in January. “We are not going the route of having a cruise line build a pier for us. We are learning from the mistake of others,” said Grant.

“We don’t want Royal Caribbean to come and say they are building any pier for us because if Royal Caribbean comes and builds a pier, they’re  going to want a preference over Carnival [Cruise Line] or Norwegian [Cruise Line], and that creates its own challenge,” Grant said. “If we can’t build the pier on our own, we’re not having it done.”

St. Kitts has sought for years to build a second cruise pier to join the existing dock at Port Zante. The effort pre-dates the new government established following the election in February of Dr. Timothy Harris as the country’s new prime minister.

In recent years, several cruise lines have opened new cruise ports via partnership agreements with Caribbean destinations. Earlier this month, Carnival Corporation joined with the Dominican Republic’s government and private investors to launch Amber Cove, an $85 million port in the country’s Puerto Plata district.

In 2011, Royal Caribbean and Jamaica’s government launched a $220 million cruise port in historic Falmouth. Other partnerships between Caribbean destinations and cruise lines to build new ports are underway in countries that include Belize and Haiti. While cruise lines frequently exercise berthing privileges at ports where the companies have played a financial role, the facilities are generally open to other cruise lines’ ships.

St. Kitts cruise pier plan is “in advanced stages” with the government “awaiting a final proposal before going to tender,” according to Grant. The new pier would be complete by 2017 and be designed (perhaps ironically) to accommodate Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class vessels, the cruise industry’s largest ships. Royal Caribbean officials did not respond to requests for comment on Grant’s remarks.

Under the previous administration, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with Massachusetts-based Jay Cashman Inc. for a $31 million pier. The agreement called for Cashman Inc. to finance the pier, while the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) would manage and operate the facility via a 30-year concession. Grant said his administration is pursuing a different arrangement to build the new pier. 

Grant said it was important to launch the cruise pier’s construction promptly as the government has already provided “commitments” to cruise lines to accommodate additional ships in 2017. 

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