(VI Consortium) MIAMI, FLORIDA, SEATRADE — This year’s Seatrade Global cruise industry conference here at the Miami Convention Center this week has arguably been one of the more scaled back events thanks to Covid-19, but that did not stop the V.I. Port Authority and Royal Caribbean from unveiling what was deemed the biggest announcement of this year’s event: a multi-year port development deal that the Consortium has learned will cost between $150 -$200 million for enhancements at the Austin Monsanto Marine Facility in Crown Bay, St. Thomas and the Ann E. Abramson Marine Facility in Frederiksted, St. Croix.
V.I.P.A. Executive Director Carlton Dowe, who spearheaded the deal with his Royal Caribbean counterparts, opened with remarks that lauded the agreement — whose current phase is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) — as a major victory for the territory’s cruise tourism sector. “We’re here this afternoon to bring some sort of history back to this territory when we get back home,” Mr. Dowe said, excitement exuding his countenance.
Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley spoke of his long ties to the territory, spanning 40 years in September — the same length of time that he’s been at Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean itself, he said, has been berthing in the USVI for 50 years, bringing tens of millions of guests over that period, with an annual estimate of 750,000 visitors.