Puerto Rico cruise ship docks face $425M public-private deal

Aug 16, 2022, 9:50 AM | Updated: 10:11 am

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor on Tuesday announced a public-private partnership to overhaul the island’s cruise ship docks as part of a $425 million project to boost the U.S. territory’s tourism sector.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said the project aims to transform Puerto Rico into the Caribbean’s main cruise ship destination by modernizing, repairing and expanding nine docks located in the capital of San Juan to receive larger vessels and more passengers.

“It’s an extremely important day for tourism in Puerto Rico,” said Carlos Mercado, executive director for the island’s Tourism Company.

San Juan Cruise Port — a subsidiary of London-based Global Ports Holding, the world’s largest cruise port operator — will be responsible for operating and overseeing the project as part of a 30-year deal with Puerto Rico’s Ports Authority that was five years in the making. The contract states the island’s government will receive annual payments representing at least 5% of the operator’s gross income.

As part of the deal, the number of docks currently capable of serving as base port for four cruise ships at a time will double to eight. Crews also will modernize docks battered by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and that have been worn down throughout the decades, with the first one being built in the 1970.

“We haven’t been able to compete on a large scale with other jurisdictions,” Pierluisi said.

Joel Pizá, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Ports Authority, said the docks are currently not designed to receive larger ships or 5,000 passengers or more at a time. He also noted that the agency is $350 million in debt, which makes it hard to issue bonds to repair and improve docks despite federal officials identifying serious structural deficiencies that would require more than $200 million to fix.

“This is the reality,” he said. “Capital investment is more than needed at this moment.”

The maximum docking fee and passenger fee are not expected to change as part of the deal, officials said.

The announcement is the latest public-private partnership that the U.S. territory has launched as the central government and certain public agencies emerge from a deep bankruptcy amid an ongoing economic crisis. Previous partnerships have led private companies to take over management and operation of the island’s main international airport, certain highways and the transmission and distribution of power, among others.

Some have criticized the newest partnership, demanding that federal officials scrutinize the privatization of some $5 billion of infrastructure for an upfront initial investment of $75 million. Puerto Rico Rep. Ángel Matos García, spokesman for the majority of the island’s House of Representatives, said he and other politicians will be meeting with federal officials in Washington, D.C. to talk about the deal.

Tourism represents less than 7% of Puerto Rico’s economy, but officials hope to change that with the newest partnership, with work slated to start next year.

Puerto Rico saw a record number of cruise ship passengers prior to the pandemic, only for the docks to shut down for 16 months. But business has since rebounded. The government reported more than 420,000 passengers in fiscal year 2021-2022, a 23% recovery compared with the 2018-2019 fiscal year

This fiscal year, officials expect more than 1 million passengers — roughly 80% of pre-pandemic traffic — with eight new cruise ships scheduled to visit the San Juan port for the first time.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A man takes refuge on a road in Jaffarabad, a flood-hit district of Baluchistan province, Pakistan,...
Associated Press

Flood-ravaged Pakistan contests ratings downgrade by Moody’s

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan on Friday contested a downgrading of its rating by Moody’s Investors Service, insisting it has adequate reserves and financing to pay back foreign debt despite the worst flooding in its history. Such downgrades tend to shake the confidence of investors because the action is seen as a warning that Pakistan is […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Judge to decide next steps on Ohio ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A judge in Ohio was scheduled to hear arguments Friday on whether to extend a block on Ohio’s law banning virtually all abortions on a more permanent basis. Hamilton County Judge Christian Jenkins previously decided to pause the law through Oct. 12, after it took effect in the wake of federal […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Britain's Minister of State (Minister for Climate) Graham Stuart addresses the 2022 Nuclear ...
Associated Press

UK offers new North Sea oil, gas licenses despite opposition

LONDON (AP) — The British government opened a new licensing round for North Sea oil and gas exploration Friday despite criticism from environmentalists and scientists who say the move undermines the country’s commitment to fighting climate change. The Conservative government argues that extracting more fossil fuels from the North Sea will create jobs and strengthen […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020, in Washington. Tr...
Associated Press

To buy Twitter, Musk has to keep banks, investors on board

If the squabbling ever stops over Elon Musk’s renewed bid to buy Twitter, experts say he still faces a huge obstacle to closing the $44 billion deal: Keeping his financing in place. Earlier this week, Musk reversed course and said he’d go through with acquiring the social media company under the same terms he agreed […]
6 hours ago
FILE - In this file photo released by the U.S. Navy, a Saildrone Explorer unmanned sea drone sails ...
Associated Press

US, UK hold drone drill in Persian Gulf after Iran seizures

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. Navy held a joint drone drill with the United Kingdom on Friday in the Persian Gulf, testing the same unmanned surveillance ships that Iran twice has seized in recent months in the Middle East. The exercise comes as the U.S. Navy separately told commercial shippers in the […]
6 hours ago
Vera Ivanovna, 81, right, walks alongs with her friends after receiving her pension payment in Chas...
Associated Press

Missiles, drones hit Zaporizhzhia again as death toll rises

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The death toll from a missile attack on apartment buildings in a southern Ukrainian city rose to 11 as more Russian missiles and — for the first time — explosive packed drones targeted Ukrainian-held Zaporizhzhia on Friday. As the war sparked by Russia’s February invasion of its neighbor ground on, the […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Puerto Rico cruise ship docks face $425M public-private deal