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New Caribbean Ports of Call

Written by  Lillian Africano

The Caribbean continues to be the most popular cruise destination industry-wide, accounting for more than a third of the cruise business globally. It’s been estimated that 60% of cruise passengers are repeaters, which heightens the need for the Caribbean to constantly re-invent itself and for cruise lines to find or create new ports of call that are rich with attractions.

Banana Coast
Last November the new, privately owned port of Banana Coast (Trujillo) on the northeast coast of Honduras welcomed its first big ship, the Norwegian Jewel. During its first season, the port hosted Holland America’s Ryndam, Silversea’s Silver Shadow and P&O Cruises’ Adonia, and Oceania’s Riviera.
Trujillo offers an abundance of natural attractions: rugged mountains, a lush tropical rainforest, beautiful beaches, rivers and waterfalls and exotic wildlife. In addition to Nature’s bounty, there’s a rich historical past that dates back to Columbus’s landing in 1502. This is also where the first Catholic mass was celebrated. History and Nature are reflected in the dozens of current excursions, which include river tubing and zip-lining.
With the opening of the new airport at Copan, visitors will also have the option of an easy trip from the Roatan port to the Copan Ruinas, the Mayan archaeological site and one of the country’s principal tourist destinations.

Amber Cove, Dominican Republic
This new port, the Caribbean’s first new cruise destination in almost 10 years, means the return of regularly scheduled cruise ships to the north coast of the Dominican Republic, which hasn’t been a regular cruise stop since the 1980s.
Carnival Corp. was a partner in developing the new $85 million facility, which was built to accommodate super-size ships. Thirteen ships across six Carnival brands (including newcomer Fathom™) are expected to make 57 port calls, delivering 350,000 cruisers to the Puerta Plata area in its first year in operation. The new port is the destination for bi-weekly “social impact” cruises from Miami by the Fathom brand.
Following the Carnival Victory’s visit in October will be other lines in the Carnival family: Costa, Cunard, Holland America, British-based P&O Cruises, the German line AIDA (and of course, Carnival).
The 25-acre complex near the town of Puerta Plata is being billed as one of the biggest Caribbean ports of the decade and features a water attraction and transportation center, a craft market, restaurants and bars. In addition to a spacious pool area with a swim-up bar and waterslides, there will be zip lines and private cabanas.
As the complex’s main role will be as a gateway to the region’s historic sites, beaches and adventure activities, nearly half the acreage is devoted to the transportation hub, where taxis and buses will take passengers to area attractions. More than 40 organized shore excursions will be available from the port, and Carnival executives expect an unusually high percentage of cruisers to sign up for the outings. (Fathom™ has organized opportunities for its passengers to do community service work.)

Harvest Caye Belize
 Delayed until mid-February, Norwegian Cruise Line’s new $50-million eco-friendly port is being built on 75 acres on two adjoining islands. The port will have docking/tendering facilities for visitors as well as a separate tender dock to connect to the mainland and island tours. There will be a floating pier, a marina, an island village and a lagoon and beach for water sports.
As Belize has jungles, rainforests, swamps and coral reefs, it is ideal for eco-tourism. Current shore excursions include Tropical Island and Reef Snorkeling; Jungle River Rafting; Lagoon Wildlife & Mangrove Estuaries; Rainforest River Tubing; and Monkey River cruises. Also available, visits to the ancient Mayan archeological site of Nim Li Punit.
Though Norwegian ships will be the primary users of the port, other ships will also be welcome.

Sugar Point Barbados: Port replacement, 2017
Working with the Barbadian government, Royal Caribbean is constructing a replacement for the industrial docks currently used by cruise ships. The $300 million project, located within closer walking distance of the capital, has three phases (the first scheduled for fall 2016) and includes the building of two new cruise piers. Eventually the port will accommodate as many as six vessels from several lines - or four Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships.

Port Zante St. Kitts
Following the construction last year of a second pier that can accommodate the biggest cruise ships, Royal Caribbean will increase its calls to the island in the summer of 2016. Two of the line’s biggest ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will make scheduled stops durrng the summer season, while Freedom of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas will make off-season calls next summer. (This change effectively doubles the 25 calls the line made during the same period in 2015.)

Road Town, Tortola Expansion
Currently underway is a $52 million expansion intended to increase cruise ship arrivals. Passenger traffic contracts were negotiated with Disney and Norwegian in advance of the project. The pier has already been lengthened and widened to accommodate bigger ships. The Tortola Pier Park, an adjacent five-acre land-based development, is expected to open before year’s end. It will feature commercial, entertainment and green spaces. The expansion will also add a boardwalk and a separate dock facility for local excursions.

Grand Cayman: Enhancements
The government has approved proposals to construct two new piers at George Town, which currently has only landing facilities for tenders. The proposals call for piers able to accommodate four ships at once and estimate the costs at $150 million. However, there has been opposition to the plan, citing potential damage to the natural environment of the harbor and there has been discussion of presenting the plan in a referendum.
Also approved are plans to enhance shore facilities at Spotts Landing, another existing anchorage about 4.5 miles from George Town. Proposed enhancements at Spotts Landing include shops, a restaurant and parking/transfer facilities. The cost is estimated at $8 million to $10 million.

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