Tourism & Cruises

PortMiami creating ‘Terminal V’ for Virgin Voyages cruise ships

Rendering of the Virgin Voyages terminal planned at PortMiami, a project approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.
Rendering of the Virgin Voyages terminal planned at PortMiami, a project approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. Virgin Voyages

There is no Terminal S,T, or U at PortMiami, but there will be a Terminal V to accommodate the cruising hub for Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages.

The alphabetical reshuffling — renaming Terminal H as Terminal V — is part of a previously announced agreement for a $150 million Virgin terminal at the county-owned port, one of a package of development deals given final approval Thursday by Miami-Dade commissioners. Virgin already has its name on the for-profit train running from Miami to West Palm Beach, and its hotel-development arm has an office in Coconut Grove.

The cruise line’s first ship, Scarlet Lady, will sail from Miami starting April 2020.

“Miami is now the hub of the Virgin brands in the United States,” Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin said at the special commission meeting called to approve five terminal agreements, followed by a video address by Branson.

The administration of Mayor Carlos Gimenez released the detailed contracts Wednesday night, prompting Chairwoman Audrey Edmonson to warn the lawmakers weren’t able to review the agreements. “There’s no way in the world we can read this overnight,” she said, holding up a bulky three-ring binder holding the paperwork.

Other terminal agreements with Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Ltd., MSC Cruises, Virgin Voyages, and cargo shipper Terminal Link had already been announced, but Thursday’s special meeting was called to give final approval of the deals negotiated by Gimenez port chief Juan Kuryla that are expected to generate about $5 billion in port revenues in the coming decades. “This is really an extraordinary day,” Gimenez said.

The new terminals, funded with a mix of cruise ship revenue and port dollars, are part of a remaking of the world’s busiest cruise port under Gimenez, with industrial-era buildings being replaced by iconic, glass-walled complexes.

“That drive, along the MacArthur Causeway, seeing all of those cruise ships lined up in a row, will become one of the most identifiable Miami images,” said Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald at the meeting.

Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line won a renovation and expansion of Terminal F. The expansion will make Carnival’s PortMiami terminal its largest in North America, and the company expects to complete the construction on it by October 2022. Carnival committed to keep ships at Terminal F for 20 years, the company said in a statement.

The commission approved MSC Cruises’ plan to build a structure that will accommodate two terminals — currently Terminal AA and Terminal AAA. The terminals will be able to accommodate two of its soon-to-arrive mega-ships that can hold 7,000 passengers each. MSC is a Geneva-based company with U.S. headquarters in South Florida.

Norwegian Cruise Line is expected to complete its terminal by the end of this year.

This article was updated to correct a wrongly attributed quote from Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin about Miami being the hub of the Virgin brand.

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