VIPA Signs 10-Year Deal With Royal Caribbean To Boost Tourism
VIPA’s Carlton “Ital” Dowe
CHARLOTTE AMALIE – The Virgin Islands government has signed a 10-year deal with the world’s second largest cruise line to help boost tourism and generate revenue.
The V.I. Port Authority said Tuesday that Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) has pledged among other things to guarantee a certain amount of passengers and pay a fee to berth at the island of St. Croix.
The company owns two of the largest cruise ships in the world that already visit St. Thomas on alternate weeks.
Officials said the deal was reached after several years of negotiation and becomes effective October 2016.
VIPA Executive Director Carlton Dowe said the agreement between the Port Authority and RCCL was finalized on December 11.
The contract begins October 1, 2016 and is for a term of 10 years with a five year option to renew, Dowe said.
“This agreement, which benefits both parties, includes a provision for RCCL to have guaranteed berthing privileges along the southern portion of the pier at the Austin “Babe” Monsanto Marine Facility in Crown Bay, St. Thomas,” he said. “The contract also requires RCCL to guarantee a certain amount of passengers, and includes increases in port fees going forward that will be paid to the Authority in accordance with the new unified tariff implemented by the VIPA Board.”
The agreement also includes a provision for RCCL to pay port fees to berth at the Ann E. Abramson Marine Facility on St. Croix, which had been free since 2002.
“The operation and maintenance of the Abramson Facility has been a tremendous financial burden to VIPA since it has been used at no charge to the cruise lines for 13 years and this practice could no longer be continued,” Dowe said. “These fees will allow us to invest in the improvement of our port infrastructure.”
The agreement between VIPA and RCCL took several years of negotiation. Dowe extended his appreciation to the CEO of RCCL and his staff for working along with the Port Authority’s legal counsel, chief financial officer, marine managers and the Authority’s board of directors.
He thanked former VIPA board chair, Robert O’Connor Jr., and the current board chair, Roberto Cintron, for their leadership and guidance throughout the negotiations.
The executive director also thanked the previous and current administration and Gov. Kenneth Mapp for his support and involvement in the talks that lead to the successful execution of this contract that will benefit the entire territory – to include the merchants and restaurants, taxis, tour and excursion operators and the treasury of the Virgin Islands.
Royal Caribbean is the second largest cruise line in the world, with a fleet of seven ship classes (Oasis, Quantum, Freedom, Voyager, Radiance, Vision and Sovereign).
The Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas, which are the two largest cruise ships in the world, alternate weekly visits to Crown Bay. Both ships can bring up to 6,296 passengers per visit. RCCL currently brings the most passengers to St. Croix: the Adventure of the Seas (3,114 passengers) and the Jewel of the Seas (2,501 passengers) berth in Frederiksted.