An official from the Florida based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. a leading investor in cruise port development, made a comprehensive presentation at today’s Cabinet session involving a proposed development and expansion of the St. John’s City Cruise Complex and its environs.
This is the second visit by John Tercek, Vice President for Commercial and New Business Development, who oversees shoreside infrastructure projects and ventures to support Royal Caribbean’s strategic growth objectives with an emphasis on port and facilities development. Making the point that Antigua was important enough [in the cruise tourism industry] for Royal Caribbean to make this kind of investment, Tercek identified and laid out a comprehensive program that addresses multiple issues relative to cruise tourism, commerce and the daily life of Antiguans and Barbudans who live and work in St. John’s.
Tercek feels there is great potential for the development of the St. John’s waterfront, in particular, areas from the Fish Market all the way South to the Deepwater Commercial Port with further concentration on the cruise-tourist areas of Redcliffe and Heritage Quays.
The entirety of the proposed development which was initiated by the Hon. Harold Lovell, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, takes into consideration opportunities for improved road and parking infrastructure, enhancement of linkages between all of the waterfront properties to provide local residents, land-based and cruise visitors with an enhanced onshore experience.
The dynamics associated with the development include improved berthing facilities and an additional berth at the Deep Water Harbour, a comprehensive signage program that incorporates informational, directional and regulatory signs and lighting, a taxi dispatch and welcome centre, modern restroom facilities, a yacht marina and slips, a downtown boutique hotel, residential and entertainment facilities that take advantage of harbour views, restaurants and bars, designer shopping boutiques, a boardwalk and beautifications and landscaping of entire areas.
The international architectural and engineering firm of Bermello, Ajamil & Partners Inc., retained by Royal Caribbean to conceptualize the thematic Master Plan presented today, are “serious about development” and are considered to be the best at this type of initiative. Bermello is currently involved in extensive and important work in the Middle East, North and Central America and Europe developing ports to accommodate Royal Caribbean’s GENESIS, the largest of the new generation of mega ships. Bermello Ajamil made international headlines when they were contracted by the City of New York to re-develop Manhattan and Brooklyn's cruise terminals.
Tercek also emphasized that the cruise market in particular is continuously expanding and is likely to expand greatly over the next several years as the European cruise consumer market continues to flourish and the bigger cruise ships like GENESIS with the potential for 6,000 or more passengers come on stream. He feels that Antigua has done a good job of managing the growth of its cruise and land-based tourism but has outgrown its infrastructure. Strategic short term solutions were recommended for the upcoming high tourist [winter] season when cruise ship visits are at their highest.
The content of the presentation evoked considerable response and discussion by cabinet ministers and Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer said he felt the “opportunities [identified] far outweigh the challenges” and agreed that “we need significant development in downtown St. John’s.” He said he would look favourably at the proposal and the immediate next steps including a meeting with key players and a broad-based community consultation. Mr. Tercek expressed an interest in returning to participate in these sessions.