All aboard for cruise ship port expansion
Bayonne site primed to increase passenger volume
by Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Apr 30, 2014 | 3669 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HANDLING BIG SHIPS – The Bayonne cruise port can handle the biggest passenger cruise ships, like the Explorer of the Seas, pictured here in January.
HANDLING BIG SHIPS – The Bayonne cruise port can handle the biggest passenger cruise ships, like the Explorer of the Seas, pictured here in January.
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In his State of the City address before Bayonne Chamber of Commerce members on April 22, Mayor Mark Smith again touted the Cape Liberty Cruise Port Expansion at The Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor as an economic driver both during its renovations and following its completion.

“It’s slated for the construction of a state-of-the-art permanent passenger terminal and associated parking deck,” Smith said in his presentation. “[That means] more passengers, more choices, more jobs.”

In July of last year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey authorized the expansion of the Bayonne cruise facility to handle the growing market in New Jersey.

The new $70 million cruise terminal building—which will be paid for by Royal Caribbean—is expected to include a 36,000-square-foot check in terminal, a 60,000-square-foot luggage area, a parking deck, and berth improvements. When the approvals were made last year, construction was scheduled to begin this summer and be completed by October.

The Port Authority acquired the cruise terminal in 2010 as part of its purchase of the 131-acre portion of the former Military Ocean Terminal.

“At this time, we are in the process of finalizing our agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and we will have more information once that is complete,” Harrison Lu, manager of brand communications for Royal Caribbean International, told the Bayonne Community News.

“The Port Authority can’t answer your questions at this time,” said Lenis Rodrigues of the Media Relations Department at The Port Authority. “As soon as we can, we will provide answers to you.”

One thing is clear, Royal Caribbean, the Port Authority, and the city of Bayonne all believe the improvements are necessary to increase use of the port.

Passenger volumes at the Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal have grown steadily in the past few years—from 393,000 passengers in 2010 to 476,000 in 2012, according to the Port Authority. Passenger volumes at the facility are expected to increase to approximately 600,000 after the new terminal building opens.

Royal Caribbean plans to use the region’s largest cruise vessels at the new Bayonne facility.

The Port Authority Board of Commissioners approved the cruise line’s plans to build the new terminal building at the Port Authority-owned marine facility because they felt it would be “a major public investment that will spur continued growth in the New Jersey cruise business.”

As part of the agreement allowing construction of the cruise terminal building, the Port Authority agreed to extend Royal Caribbean’s operating agreement for the terminal for an additional five years, through 2043.

Create jobs and economic activity

“The cruise industry is one of this region’s most rapidly growing markets, and this private sector investment will enhance our ability to generate significant revenues from the waterfront property we own,” then Port Authority Chairman David Samson said on July 24 last year. “  … We will be able to grow the jobs and economic activity that the cruise business has generated for this region for many decades.”

“The new Royal Caribbean Cruise Terminal will provide the people of New Jersey and New York with the world-class travel experience they deserve,” then Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni also said on July 24. “We welcome the significant investment Royal Caribbean is making in our region ….”

The cruise port, then and now

When it was opened in 2004, the cruise port marked the return of passenger ships sailing from New Jersey. The Cape Liberty site boasts the second largest passenger volume among northeast and mid-Atlantic coast ports. The port offers year-round cruises to the eastern and southern Caribbean as well as seasonal cruises to the northeast and Canada.

The cruise port is a focal point of the multi-billion-dollar redevelopment of The Peninsula. Hotels, residential units, and retail establishments are among the other proposed plans for the area.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at: JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.

 

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