Tourism & Cruises

PortMiami may grow even bigger than originally planned — if new MSC Cruises terminal is OK’d

MSC Cruises’ World Class of ships will have capacity for nearly 7,000 passengers at maximum occupancy.
MSC Cruises’ World Class of ships will have capacity for nearly 7,000 passengers at maximum occupancy. MSC

MSC Cruises wants to build an even bigger terminal in PortMiami.

Last year, county commissioners approved MSC’s plans to build on a 9-acre terminal site with space for one 7,000-passenger ship at a time. At a meeting in Geneva Thursday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and MSC Cruises signed a letter of intent to build a much larger structure than originally planned. Now, MSC says it wants 16.5 acres and enough space to fit two 7,000-passenger ships at a time — possibly with two terminals — plus office space.

“This agreement represents a blueprint for the further expansion of the cruise operation at the world’s leading cruise port,” said MSC’s executive chairman, Gianluigi Aponte, in a statement Thursday.

MSC Cruises currently operates a fleet of 15 cruise vessels. Three of them call Terminal F at PortMiami home: MSC Seaside, MSC Divina and MSC Armonia. With a new cruise terminal — or two — the letter of intent said MSC would bring an estimated 1.5 million passengers through PortMiami each year. The Geneva-based line now has its U.S. offices in Broward.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. officially opened Terminal A, the largest cruise terminal in the U.S., in collaboration with Miami-Dade County. The new terminal at PortMiami will serve as homeport to some of Royal Caribbean's largest ships.

Once the financial details of the terminal plan are ironed out, MSC and the county will ask the Miami-Dade Board of Commissioners for its approval. MSC would aim to finish construction by November 2022, according to a spokesperson for the port.

MSC is one of four cruise lines to announce ambitious expansions at PortMiami. Royal Caribbean opened its new Terminal A in November 2018, now home to some of its 5,400-passenger Oasis-class ships. Norwegian Cruise Line plans to open its new terminal at Terminals B and C in November, which will hold two 5,000-passenger ships at once. And, the county commission approved Virgin Voyages’ plans to build a terminal set to open in 2021.

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Taylor Dolven covers the tourism industry at the Miami Herald, where she aims to tell stories about the people who work in tourism and the people who enjoy it. Previously, she worked at Vice News in Brooklyn, NY, where she won a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of NY for a national investigation of police shootings.