Nine San Juan, Puerto Rico cruise ship docks will be expanded and modernized under a $425 million public-private partnership between the Caribbean island’s government and London-based Global Ports Holding, officials said Tuesday.
The project will “transform” Puerto Rico’s cruise operations, enabling the destination to compete with other Caribbean countries for cruise ship calls, said Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s governor.
“We haven’t been able to compete on a large scale with other jurisdictions,” added Pierluisi, who did not outline a completion date for the port renovations.
Global Ports subsidiary San Juan Cruise Port will operate the renovated piers under a 30-year agreement with the Puerto Rico Ports Authority (PRPA), said officials in press reports. Puerto Rico’s government will receive annual payments representing at least five percent of San Juan Cruise Port’s gross income.
The San Juan cruise docks will double their capacity from the current four ships to eight. As part of the project, San Juan Cruise Port will modernize docks damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and “worn down throughout the decades.” San Juan’s oldest cruise ship dock was built in 1970.
San Juan’s cruise ports cannot currently accommodate the cruise industry’s largest ships or vessels with capacities of more than 5,000 passengers said Joel Pizá, PRPA’s executive director.
The project will help the agency overcome a $350 million deficit, under which it has been unable to revamp the cruise docks, Pizá said. Federal officials have reported “serious structural deficiencies” at some of the docks, which the cost of repairs estimated at $200 million, according to press reports.
Puerto Rico hosted 420,000 passengers during the 2021-2022 fiscal year, a 23 percent increase compared with 2018-2019. Port officials expect to host more than one million passengers this fiscal year, a total equaling 80 percent of pre-pandemic traffic, officials said. Eight cruise ships are scheduled to call at the San Juan port for the first time this year.
Puerto Rico has long been among the most popular Caribbean cruise ports, hosting 1.78 million passengers in pre-pandemic 2019, the fourth-most among destinations tracked that year by the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
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