Tourism & Cruises

Royal Caribbean says fleet coming back to Miami

An aerial view of PortMiami in this 2007 file photo.
An aerial view of PortMiami in this 2007 file photo. Miami Herald Staff

Royal Caribbean Cruises pledged to make Miami the primary home for its fleet after securing early approval for building a new PortMiami terminal that will give it the kind of mega berth it already has in Fort Lauderdale.

“It’s not that we’re leaving Port Everglades,” Adam Goldenstein, RCL’s chief operating officer, told county commissioners Wednesday. “But the majority of our business will now shift here to PortMiami for the foreseeable future.”

County commissioners embraced the proposed the deal as a way to reverse the cruise giant’s practice of sending its newest and largest ships to Port Everglades. A final vote on contracts will come later.

Royal Caribbean is the Fort Lauderdale port’s large cruise operator, while Carnival has the No. 1 fleet in Miami. Royal Caribbean would spend more than $100 million to build the terminal, according to a county memo, and then operate it at the county-owned port. Port officials estimate that the new berth and terminal will generate about $8 million in new rent to the county, and boost overall cruise traffic by 20 percent with an additional 1 million passengers a year.

The stream of passengers is expected to come from RCL’s Oasis fleet, home to the world’s largest cruise ships. RCL sails the large ships out of Fort Lauderdale, but the new terminal and a mega berth will give the company room to bring the vessels to Miami. “When the large ships went to Broward and not Miami, there was so much pain,” Commissioner Barbara Jordan said.