From our local newspaper here in Bayonne: (there's news about parking too).
Cruise line nixes Haitian port plans
Fed advisory cited city, Royal Caribbean working on contracts
Thursday, March 25, 2004
By Ronald Leir
Journal staff writer
Royal Caribbean International has yet to launch its first cruise out of the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, but it has already changed part of its itinerary.
Adam Goldstein, the cruise line's executive vice president, said the company's ships won't be stopping at the Haitian port of Labadee as part of its Caribbean sail, since the U.S. State Department has advised Americans to avoid the island in the wake of civil unrest after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide left the island nation.
Instead, Goldstein said, the company is considering substituting Nassau in the Bahamas as a port of call, "but we're still fiddling with that."
Royal Caribbean, headquartered in Miami, Fla., is scheduled to begin a season of sailings out of Bayonne to destinations in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Canada on May 9. Two of its ships, Empress of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas, will be alternating out of a 1,000-foot berth on the Peninsula's north side.
An old military warehouse, known as Building 14, is being converted into a temporary passenger/customs terminal.
Speaking at yesterday's Bayonne Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting at the Chandelier Restaurant, Goldstein said that Royal Caribbean moved part of its operations from Manhattan's West Side because the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey committed to providing pier space for all but four ship "turnaround" dates.
After waiting "six to eight months of pleading our case and not getting anywhere," Goldstein said, the company realized it needed to start looking elsewhere. Reserving pier space was critical, he said, because "you're talking about 3,500 people getting off a ship, carrying 5,000 to 8,000 pieces of luggage."
Bayonne turned out to be the answer, Goldstein said, because it has a deep water port that can accommodate oceangoing vessels, its location offers "45 minutes less steaming time" out of the harbor, it is close to major highways and Newark Airport and it offers "intriguing long-term (development) prospects."
Among the details still to be worked out are planning paths of interior roads and signage that will allow for efficient transport of people and supplies to and from the ship and in and out of the Peninsula, arranging some form of "waterway access to and from Manhattan," preparing the interim terminal, providing security and parking, and hiring an estimated 200 employees as passenger "greeters," baggage handlers and stevedores, Goldstein said.
Goldstein said contractual agreements with the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority are still being worked out.
BLRA Executive Director Nancy Kist said two contracts with the cruise line will be drafted - one for a ground lease of Peninsula space to be used as "staging areas" for passenger pickups/dropoffs and for a ship loading zone, and a second for parking revenues.
"Royal Caribbean will operate the parking facility and we'll take a percentage of the receipts," Kist said.
Initially, Kist said, there will be a "short-term" contract providing for an interim 5-year lease, and then at some point the BLRA will negotiate a permanent lease for up to 35 years.