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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, July 17, 2024


Two cruise line companies whose ships regularly call at St. Thomas are interested in developing Crown Bay as a major cruise ship dock and shopping center. And they have approached the Port Authority to discuss certain conditions they want in place before they submit a master plan for the development of seven acres near the existing dock.
The companies, Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International, want VIPA to expand the dock so it can accommodate two 950-foot vessels at the same time. The dock can now accommodate an 800-foot vessel on the south side and a slightly shorter ship on the northern berth.
The preliminary proposal came out of a meeting of VIPA executive director Gordon Finch, representatives of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association and officials of the two cruise line companies.
Finch recommended that the Port Authority commission a study to determine the feasibility of expanding the Crown Bay dock to accommodate the larger vessels. "Turning away from the cruise lines' request," he said, could result in the pier becoming a virtual white elephant. "The bottom line is, we're going to have to accommodate the desires of the FCCA," he said, "because, in the end, they are the ones sending the ships to us."
At its meeting Wednesday, the VIPA board authorized Finch to conduct a cost analysis of the work necessary to meet the terms of the FCCA and its member lines. The Port Authority is expected to ask a marine research facility in Florida, STAR Center, to conduct the study.
STAR Center just completed another study — commissioned by VIPA, the FCCA and the West Indian Co. Ltd. — to determine the feasibility of berthing two 850-foot ships together at the Crown Bay dock. At the time that study was being undertaken, no party had expressed any interest in any greater expansion of the docking facilities.
Attorney General Iver Stridiron, a VIPA board member, urged Finch to move quickly on the matter. "This project could result in significant benefits for not only the Port Authority but also the entire territory," he said. Many other board members agreed.
Since a request for proposals has already been sent out to about 30 firms interested in developing Crown Bay, Finch said, letters will be sent to those companies indicating that the RFP process has been suspended pending completion of the new STAR center study.
Finch urged the board to have VIPA pay for the second STAR Center study despite an offer by FCCA to fund it. "We need to keep this entire project on a level playing field," he said.

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