The Massachusetts Port Authority formally launched a new Cruiseport Boston today, with the opening of a renovated and expanded terminal with a focus on meeting the growing demand of the cruise industry and the economic benefits it brings to the region, as well as enhancing customer convenience, and being environmentally sensitive. Over the past year, Massport spent $11 million transforming the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, from a vintage World War I military warehouse, into a 21st century point of departure for ocean-going vacationers.
With the work completed in September, vacationers now embarking on a cruise will go through a building with three times more usable space than a year ago. The transformation begins at arrival, where passengers check their baggage at the curb and take new escalators or elevators to the third floor of the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. The third floor has more than 60,000 square feet of new space – providing more check-in counters, passenger screening and seating – all with an open, airy feel. Half of the old metal cargo doors on the third floor were replaced by picture windows to give passengers movie-screen size views of the cruise ship they are about to board. The restoration uses vibrant colors, but also acknowledges the building’s history by keeping old painted numerals that designated storage bays on the walls, retaining the exposed steel support beams, and exposing the wooden timbers framing the ceiling.
“You can only make one first impression, and our cruise terminal is the front door for a world-class port city,” said Thomas J. Kinton, Jr., Massport’s CEO & Executive Director. “With larger ships bringing more visitors every year, and with more vacationers choosing to cruise out of Boston, we had to make this investment. Cruising is a growth industry in Massachusetts and its economic impact extends far beyond the waterfront.’’
"Investing in infrastructure to create jobs and economic opportunity is a priority of Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray, and this cruise terminal project will offer an economic benefit while at the same time improving the experience for hundreds of thousands of customers," said Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary & CEO and Massport Board member Jeffrey Mullan.
The renovations include moving the baggage claim area from an adjacent warehouse area to the former ticketing hall on the ground floor of the terminal. A gently sloping moving walkway and an additional elevator were installed to help those disembarking a ship on the second level easily transition to the ground floor with their carry-on bags.
With the additions and expansion, Cruiseport Boston can now simultaneously handle disembarking passengers as well as those wanting to board a ship. Previously passengers leaving on a cruise would have to wait outside the terminal until it was cleared of those getting off the ship. Overall, the renovations generated about 100 constructions jobs.
Cruiseport Boston serves as an economic engine for the region. According to a 2010 report by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), cruise industry spending generated about 7,157 jobs and $407 million in income for Massachusetts’ workers through direct, indirect, and induced impact. It is estimated that passengers and crew spent $22 million in Boston last year. Massachusetts accounted for more than $459 million in cruise industry direct spending in 2009, a 6 percent increase over 2008. The state ranks ninth nationally for economic impact from the cruise industry, rising from 11th in 2008. (Florida is first.)
“We are delighted with the new space Massport created at the cruise terminal, and are confident embarking cruise passengers will love the bright and spacious interior of the third floor departure area,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Chief Executive Officer. “Last month, our guests gave the highest ratings ever for getting on and off our ship, Norwegian Spirit, in Boston. With the renovations now complete, guests will have an even more enjoyable experience.”
“Boston is a wonderful port city and North American gateway with a unique proximity to its airport and historic downtown,’’ said Stein Kruse, president and chief executive officer of Holland America Line, “Massport’s improvements will enhance our guest experience as we continue to use Boston as a cruise gateway.’’
The project also incorporates elements of green design and construction including the adaptive reuse of the century old building, daylighting, recycled materials used in floors and seating, natural ventilation, and energy saving LED lighting.
Part of Black Falcon’s makeover incorporated new signage, including exterior floor-to-ceiling graphics of Boston scenes on the waterside of the terminal for those leaving a ship to view. On the landside, those approaching the building will see large hanging posters showcasing the destinations served by cruise ships sailing from Boston. The images provide the hundreds of thousands of arriving cruise passengers a sense of place and give the departing passengers a sense of excitement about the destinations served by the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal.
Three ships homeport in Boston: Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Spirit sails weekly to Bermuda and also offers Canada/New England cruises in the fall; Holland America Line’s Maasdam sails every other week to Montreal between May and October, and Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas has cruises sailing from Boston to ports in Canada and New England. In 2011, the Norwegian Spirit will be replaced by the newer and 10 percent larger Norwegian Dawn.
Cruiseport Boston’s business is roughly 60 percent port of call and 40 percent originating cruise. In 2009, Boston’s cruise business set a new passenger record with nearly 300,000 people, an 11 percent increase over 2008. This year Massport expects to pass the 300,000 mark. Over the past ten years, total passenger numbers have grown by 51 percent.