The government of Puerto Rico will partner with cruise line Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. to improve the Muelle Panamericano II pier in San Juan, officials announced Thursday.
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, flanked by Ports Authority Executive Director Omar Marrero, said the economic benefit for the agency is estimated at $2.8 million.
“Puerto Rico has all the qualities for the development of maritime tourism. With improvements in infrastructure, private sector support and efficient promotion, we will continue to expand the range of entry points to the island and diversify growth opportunities for the visitor economy,” Rosselló said.
Meanwhile, Marrero said part of the agreement states that starting May 12, 2018 the “Freedom of the Seas” cruise ship will offer a seven-day Eastern Caribbean trip, leaving from the Muelle Panamericano II, which will become its home port. To achieve this, investments will be made in improvements to the port facility to optimize the infrastructure and in turn improve the passenger experience at the dock.
“Puerto Rico has a new administration that is open for business. The government should be seen as a facilitator that can partner with the private sector to achieve better results for everybody’s benefit,” said Marrero.
“This investment represents various aspects of equal importance: the commitment to Puerto Rico, the increase in confidence by businesses and investors and the positive support we have received from the private sector,” said Marrero, adding “this new operation as homeport represents an encouraging economic impact, as it increases about 1,200 passengers weekly.”
For fiscal year 2015-2016 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. brought a total of 574,140 passengers and is expected to increase to approximately 700,000 passengers by 2018.
As part of the agreement between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and the Ports Authority, several projects will be performed: boarding bridge improvements, upgrades and reconfiguration of security points, adding passenger check-in counters, expanding the capacity of the baggage inspection area, improvements to bathrooms, dredging the Muelle Panamericano II’s berth area, improvements to the structure of the boat mooring, and other miscellaneous improvements to the building.
“Freedom of the Seas” is the largest cruise ship that has made Puerto Rico its homeport. It was the first cruise ship to offer the FlowRider surfing simulator, a rock climbing wall, a skating rink and features more than 10 chain restaurants to choose from on board.