“We do have space. I want that to be very clear, that we have space for growth here at PortMiami,” said Juan Kuryla, port director. “We are growing and need to continue investing.”
Miami is coming off a record year, with 5.3 million cruise passengers, and a similar, slightly better year is expected in 2017-2018. After that, Kuryla is forecasting a continued pattern of record-breaking cruise traffic.
Going from 4.9 million to 5.3 million passengers in a year, the most ever recorded anywhere; Kuryla is juggling multiple projects for a 20 percent bump up in 2019, and even more growth behind that.
“We will likely be at 6.4 million passengers,” he added.
The biggest bump up in numbers last year came from Royal Caribbean, with 350,000 more passengers. That figure will grow exponentially when the company opens Terminal A for its Oasis-class ships come 2018.
Talking to Cruise Industry News on a November Monday, there were a staggering seven cruise vessels docked and Kuryla was weeks away from the grand opening of Terminal F, a new facility developed for MSC Cruises and the MSC Seaside.
That terminal is only the beginning, as MSC has bigger plans, including the deployment of the Meraviglia in the Caribbean, sailing from Miami alongside the Seaside in summer 2019.
Discussions are ongoing with Virgin and Norwegian for new terminals.
“Both would be additional to the terminals we have,” Kuryla said. “We are taking some land on the north side from the cargo operations to create a footprint for additional terminals.”
Not to be overlooked, Carnival Cruise Line has been the port’s largest customer dating back to the 1970s, and accounted for more than 2 million passenger movements last year. This year the new Carnival Horizon will homeport in Miami after a brief summer in New York.
“We are also in discussions with them on how to work together to accommodate further growth,” explained Kuryla.
He attributed the growth to a total commitment to the cruise industry not only by the port, but by the willingness of elected officials to accept the port’s and cruise line’s recommendations on investments.
New terminal projects must consider not only the space for the terminal, but land infrastructure ranging from parking, to utilities, apron needs, traffic patterns and more, Kuryla said.
“The speed at which we need to grow to accommodate new ships is unprecedented,” he continued, “and we are moving quickly.”
Various studies have been conducted on LNG, and the port is moving toward a solution regarding whether bunkering would be a land or water-side operation. Kuryla said he expects Miami to receive its first LNG-powered ship in 2022.