Huge Cruise Terminal for Royal Caribbean Is Possibly On Tap for PortMiami

A potential new terminal at PortMiami could accommodate Royal Caribbean's largest ships, such as the Oasis-class vessels. Oasis of the Seas is shown above at Port Everglades, FL. // Photo by Susan J. Young

Is a new PortMiami terminal to accommodate one of Royal Caribbean International’s largest mega-ships on the horizon? A proposal for just that is now making its way through the government approval process in South Florida.

The Miami Herald reported late last week that a deal is in the works between Miami-Dade County, FL, and Royal Caribbean, which has corporate headquarters at PortMiami.

The line reportedly wants to finance and build a new cruise Terminal A, located in the northeastern section of the port; that area is now dedicated to cargo. The county says Royal Caribbean’s investment could total more than $100 million and double the number of its passengers sailing from PortMiami.

"The recent news of a possible new terminal for Royal Caribbean at PortMiami paints a very positive outlook for the continued growth within cruising, which is always exciting for the industry and the agents," Drew Daly, general manager of network engagement and performance, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., tells Travel Agent. "This would be a great opportunity for agents to sell and promote more of the new larger Royal Caribbean ships out of Miami. This would allow for more options for consumers and agents when thinking of a Caribbean cruise."

Unprecedented Deal

Port Director Juan Kuryla told Seatrade Cruise News that the deal is “unprecedented” as it would make Royal Caribbean the first private company to build its own terminal at PortMiami.

The length of the contract is also very unusual. The line would reportedly ink a deal for at least 20 years and at most 60 years. If the project comes to fruition, the new terminal could open by fall 2018.

With space for a 1,312-foot berth, the terminal could serve the line’s largest Oasis-class ships or any future ships of even greater size. However, the deal apparently doesn’t specify what ships the line will bring to the port. Currently, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas sail from Port Everglades, which has an agreement with Royal Caribbean expiring in 2018.

Starting in winter 2016, Oasis of the Seas also will sail from central Florida’s Port Canaveral. Two more Oasis-class ships are being delivered in 2016 and 2018.

Commissioners to Vote

Commissioners from Miami-Dade County are expected to vote this Wednesday on a nonbinding memorandum of understanding that would provide the basis for several agreements with Royal Caribbean. 

PortMiami would reportedly receive about $8.3 million a year in revenue from the potential new deal. That includes $9.5 million in rent from Royal Caribbean. However, the displacement of cargo operation on the site would cut the port’s revenue by $1.2 million.

Still, the completion of any agreement to bring the largest mega-ships is a win for the port, which has been under pressure to raise revenue. Its credit rating was recently downgraded from “risk” to “moderate risk.”

If the commissioners vote positively on the memorandum of understanding, then the parties would work out the specifics of ground leasing, terminal operations and other details.