Carlos Gerard

Puerto Vallarta is in the midst of a major upgrade. A three phase plan to build a cruise terminal in the style of a traditional Mexican hacienda, a two-teared 400-car parking lot, and Latin America's largest aquarium will likely top $36 million.

The 15,500 square meter commercial project went out to bid in 2015 and phase one, the terminal, is currently under construction.

Cruise industry veteran, port agent, and tour provider Carlos Gerard won the terminal bid.

He said cruise officials and Puerto Vallarta stakeholders are in perfect harmony for the authentic amenities to be offered. "We don't want to make just another cruise terminal," Gerard said. "By completing something completely different, they will feel like they are in an authentic Mexican hacienda."

Gerard is a former government tourism official and also runs a tequila distillery nearby popular with cruise tours. "I know from experience what the cruise lines want, need. I know what the passengers want, need -- as well as the crew." He emphasized cruise crew as potential customers.

While acknowledging there are skeptics, and even dissenting voices to the plan that would increase attractions in the port itself and not the town area, he said Puerto Vallarta residents were wholly committed to their tourism product, which boasts of a diversity of cruise arrivals as well as drive in and fly in.

"It's creating more jobs. We are creating 400 jobs just for the construction. When finished, over 1000. The main reason is to become more competitive," he told Cruise Industry News. "We need Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas to do something similar."

The project is scheduled, aggressively, for an autumn 2018 completion.

Puerto Vallarta expects 145 ships this year, up from a low of just 81 ships in 2013. He hopes for at-least 10 percent growth year-over-year going forward.