As of Jan. 1, management of the New York Passenger Ship Terminal was transferred from the Port Authority Of New York And New Jersey to the International Terminal Operating Co. (ITO).

ITO has served as the terminal's stevedore for the past 20 years, according to ITO Terminal Manager Anthony Caputo, and has obtained the management contract for piers 88, 90 and 92 for 10 years. "We have targeted the cruise business as our main priority," said Caputo, who noted that this year's cruise schedule -­ with roughly 250 calls - is comparable to the record activity of 1996.

From the cruise industry's perspective, the big question mark still hanging over New York City is the fate of terminal 92, which currently serves as an overflow facility on occasions when terminals 88 and 90 are full.

The New York Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is currently reviewing real estate development proposals which would encompass terminals 92, 94 and 96. It is possible the EDC will approve a plan which would disallow cruise calls at terminal 92, and thus cut New York City's berthing capacity by 33 percent.

The strongest contender for approval by the EDC would develop piers 92 and 94 into The Rivierview Studios, a 500,000-square-foot film/TV production center. The developer was given a "conditional designation" by the city in January. Final designation could be awarded in six months.