By Gay Nagle Myers
St. Thomas is moving ahead with plans to build a new pier at the Havensight cruise terminal, which would enable the busy port to accommodate more ships, including the industry’s largest ships.
The Long Bay Landing project calls for two 1,350-foot-long parallel berths that will be divided by a pier. No construction time line has been announced.
Today, mega-ships such as Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class vessels must dock at the Crown Bay terminal when calling in St. Thomas. Crown Bay opened in 2007 with two berths.
Of the two ports, Havensight is the busier one. The dock was extended earlier this year so that it could accommodate three ships, but there are times when three berths aren’t enough. Ships sometimes have to anchor in the harbor and tender passengers to and from shore when the pier is full.
The Long Bay Landing project will keep the U.S. Virgin Islands competitive with other Caribbean destinations as well as increase government revenue, according to Joseph Boschulte, president and CEO of West Indian Company (WICO), operator of the Havensight terminal.
“We thought long and hard about how this would affect not only our bottom line, but also the territory as a whole. We had to be sure that any new development would not be at the expense of our environment and our community,” Boschulte said.
Cruise-related revenue accounts for more than 70% of the Virgin Islands economy.
“We can no longer rest on our laurels, thinking that our islands are the automatic first choice for travelers,” Boschulte said. “The competition is tough, and our neighbors have watched both the good and bad choices we have made in order to improve our products.”
St. Thomas cruise passengers numbers totaled 1.47 million through September, up 4% over the same period in 2013. Year-end passenger numbers in 2013 came close to the 2 million mark (1.99 million), up 4.9% over 2012.