Norwegian Cruise Line has bought two islands in southern Belize to develop as a port of call for its western Caribbean cruises.
The line announced Wednesday that it had bought 75 acres in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts that previously were approved for development of a resort. Norwegian plans to invest $50 million in the Harvest Caye project, which it expects to complete in 2015.
“While the master plan for the 75 acres is still under development, the vision is to create a world-class cruise destination, consisting of two locations: an island destination with docking/tendering facilities and a mainland connection point for inland tours,” Norwegian said in a press release.
“Major components of the project are anticipated to include a floating pier, island village with open-air structures on raised platforms, marina, transportation hub for tours to the mainland, a lagoon for a variety of water sports and a relaxing beach area. The goal is to design an authentic experience grounded in the storyline of nature, ancient culture, art, adventure and music that celebrates Belizean, Mayan and Garifuna history and culture.”
Norwegian has retained IDEA Inc., an Orlando company that designs branded ports and other destinations, to design the project.
Creation of the new port will divert ships from Belize City and is expected to relieve pressure from cruise-ship visits there — something that the Belize government has been calling for.
That’s especially important since Norwegian, which has three new ships on order, expects to quadruple the number of passengers it brings to Belize.
Norwegian said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Belize that calls for adherence to Belize’s environmental standards, creation of jobs for Belizeans, and significant economic benefits for the Central American country.