Royal Caribbean seeks new terminal in Miami

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has started negotiations aimed at building a new $100 million terminal at Port Miami that would accommodate Oasis-class ships.

Specifications call for a 170,000-square-foot terminal with a berth of 400 meters, or about 1,312 feet. Oasis of the Seas is 1,186 feet long.

The specifications are in a memorandum of understanding to be considered by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners on Sept. 16. If approved, the memorandum would become a roadmap for a final negotiation. The memorandum said the terminal is “assumed to become operational” by the end of 2018.

“By the nature of a memorandum of understanding, there is still a long road to go,” said Rob Zeiger, Royal Caribbean’s vice president of communications.

Royal Caribbean currently docks at Terminal G at the port, the closest one to downtown Miami. The new terminal would be built partly on a cargo area in the easternmost part of the port furthest from downtown. Designated Terminal A, it would be developed and owned by Royal Caribbean except for a small contribution from the county.

The agreement, which would last for a minimum of 20 years, calls for Royal Caribbean to pay an initial rent on leasing the land beneath the terminal for $9.5 million a year, or about $250 million over the life of the agreement, after annual escalators. The lease would have four 10-year optional extensions. A summary of the memorandum calls it a new model for financing terminals at the port.

“This deal structure is extremely attractive to the port because it transfers risk from the county to a private company,” said the summary, signed by Jack Osterholt, deputy county mayor.

The memorandum said that ever since Miami lost the deployment of Oasis and Allure of the Seas to Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades in 2009, the port has been talking with Royal Caribbean about ways to boost the number of passengers. Currently, that number is about 730,000 a year.