The Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) has received approval from the Board of Governors to proceed on the St Croix and St Thomas cruise ports expansion project.
In St Croix, Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) and VIPA are collaborating to allow larger ships to visit Frederiksted.
While on St Thomas, VIPA, RCL, and Cruise Terminals International (CTI) are focusing on Crown Bay cruise port.
CTI is a partnership between RCL and funds affiliated with iCON Infrastructure, an investment fund manager, that develops and operates cruise port infrastructure worldwide.
The development project includes the revitalisation of the Subbase and Crown Bay area on St Thomas, including the modernisation of the Crown Bay Centre to enhance guest experience, and the potential expansion of the Austin ‘Babe’ Monsanto Marine Terminal.
VIPA Executive Director, Carlton Dowe said that the board’s approval is a step in the right direction for the territory’s cruise industry.
“Our partnership with Cruise Terminals International and Royal Caribbean Group will be a beneficial union for all involved – and particularly for the people of the US Virgin Islands. We are excited to advance to the next phase of this project, which will include new developments at our cruise ports and land-side attractions on St Croix and St Thomas.
“I have frequently stated that the Caribbean and the rest of the world are not waiting for the USVI to advance. This public/private partnership guarantees that the USVI will maintain its esteemed position as the premier destination in the Caribbean,” he said.
USVI Governor, Albert Bryan Jr added: “I want to express our heartfelt gratitude to the Virgin Islands Port Authority, Royal Caribbean Group, and Cruise Terminals International for their unwavering commitment to our islands.
“This partnership to enhance the infrastructure at Subbase and Crown Bay marks a momentous stride in our administration’s mission to rejuvenate our towns and establish the US Virgin Islands as the ultimate tourism haven in the Caribbean,” he said.
“Cruise Terminals International is delighted to be partnering with the Virgin Islands Port Authority and Royal Caribbean Group on our first development project in the Americas,” said Khaled Naja, CTI CEO. “The Crown Bay project aligns with our mission to deliver world class cruise infrastructure to premier destinations around the world and we look forward to collaborating with the project stakeholders.”
“Today’s approval is the next step in advancing this transformative partnership, which reaffirms and elevates our commitment to the US Virgin Islands,” Josh Carroll, RCL’s Vice President of destination development and deployment, said, “The enhancements at Crown Bay will create a premier cruise destination that provides an elevated guest experience while also creating responsible tourism opportunities in the territory.”
VIPA, RCG, and CTI signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in September with the aim of redeveloping Crown Bay and build extra berthing capacity.
In addition, the MOU incorporates a commitment by RCL to expand the St Croix pier infrastructure, renewing its commitment to the cruise industry in the US Virgin Islands.