The skyline at PortMiami is going to look very different come 2019.
Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced Wednesday it is moving forward with plans to build a new, modern terminal at the port by fall 2019. The plan, which is still pending final approval from the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners in April, will sit next to Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises’ new Terminal A, set for completion by November 2018.
Norwegian, which owns Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, first announced plans to build a new terminal in May, when a memorandum of understanding was approved by the county commission.
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Plans call for a new terminal to be built east of Norwegian’s current location at Terminals B and C. The new terminal will be called Terminal B, and the existing Terminals B and C will become Terminal C. Together, the two Norwegian terminals will have space for two 5,000-passenger ships at once. Completion of the new terminal will coincide with the arrival of Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, Norwegian Encore, in Miami in the fall of 2019.
The terminal will cost Miami-Dade $100 million. Norwegian has not yet revealed how much it will contribute to the total building cost.
The new terminal is designed to give passengers a more attractive and enjoyable embarkation and disembarkation experience that more closely mirrors the experience onboard Norwegian’s ships, said Andy Stuart, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line.
“[Passengers’] vacation should start when they arrive and they go through the facility. It shouldn’t be when they walk onboard the ship, so there shouldn’t be this disconnect of, ‘I’m in a terminal, now I’m in a beautiful ship,’ ” Stuart said. “People are going to feel the experience start when they enter this facility.”
The terminal design was revealed Wednesday at the annual Seatrade Cruise Global conference, the industry’s largest annual meeting, held in Fort Lauderdale.
The cruise company convinced county officials to kill the original winning bid for the design of the terminal and instead allow Norwegian to choose its own design and construction firms. Norwegian claimed the county was choosing a firm that would be friendlier to the county’s bottom line — the winning bid proposed an $81 million design, not $100 million — but at the expense of the aesthetic appeal of the building.
Stuart said the design was important as Norwegian expands its legacy in South Florida. Norwegian Cruise Line launched the modern cruise industry more than 50 years ago, and expects this building to stand for the future of its history locally.
“This is a facility that is going to be here for the long term. It becomes part of the Miami skyline. It represents the brand and the company,” he said.
The design firm Norwegian chose was Miami-based Bermello Ajamil & Partners, which has envisioned an all-glass, 166,500-square-foot terminal to be dubbed the “Pearl of Miami.” The oblong building will contrast with Royal Caribbean’s more angular design next door. Both terminals will have an attached parking garage with 1,000 parking spaces.
Inside Norwegian’s terminal, new technology will make the embarkation and disembarkation process more seamless, the cruise line said. It will also feature a lounge and service area to welcome large groups and charters.
PortMiami director Juan Kuryla said the addition of the Norwegian terminal, along with Royal’s new development, will cement PortMiami’s status as the Cruise Capital of the World. The port broke a world record by welcoming 5.3 million visitors in 2017. It’s projected to host 5.4 million passengers in 2018.
“We could decide ... not to build, but come 2024, 2025, other ports will be bigger if we don’t push these type of developments.” Kuryla said.
His greatest hope, he added was that the new terminals will spark competition among the lines, which may want to upgrade their terminals, too.
“This sets the stage for other beautiful terminals along the north side of the port,” Kuryla said.