Tourism & Cruises

Miami-Dade commission gives MSC go ahead to build new terminal at PortMiami

MSC Cruises

Even more cranes are coming to PortMiami.

On Tuesday the Miami-Dade board of commissioners approved the construction of a new cruise ship terminal for Geneva-based MSC Cruises. Dubbed Terminal AAA, MSC expects it will be completed by 2022 and big enough to accommodate two of MSC’s forthcoming 7,000-passenger ships at once.

The deal — the biggest of its kind by the county’s measure — comes after Mayor Carlos Gimenez traveled to Geneva in January to shake on it with MSC’s leadership.

MSC has agreed to a 50-year lease on the port land that includes free rent for the first year and $8 million in infrastructure from the county.

The company will pay $15.2 million for the second year, and then three percent more each year until year 31, when the rent will be renegotiated. MSC is responsible for any necessary dredging and will pay the county $6.19 per passenger for every passenger exceeding 2.5 million in a single year.

Many climate models project Miami streets will be flooding daily by 2070, when the MSC deal ends. A spokesman for MSC declined to comment on whether sea level rise is a concern for the company.

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.

MSC, now the fourth largest cruise company in the world, has its U.S. headquarters in Fort Lauderdale and has been cruising out of PortMiami since 2012, primarily from Terminal F. Neighbor and competitor Royal Caribbean finished its new terminal last year. Norwegian Cruise Line is expected to complete its terminal next door by the end of this year. The newest cruise company, Virgin Voyages, has said its PortMiami terminal will be up and running in 2021.

By November, MSC will have four ships cruising out of PortMiami; all will stop at the company’s new private island, Ocean Cay, in the Bahamas. Between 2022, when the terminal is completed, and 2027, MSC will launch 13 new ships. Four of those will be among the largest in the world with capacity for 7,000 passengers.

“Our ambition is to have our most innovative ship classes represented at PortMiami, bringing a wealth of choice to our North American as well as international guests,” said MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago in a statement.

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.
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