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Work begins on ports for ferry service between Mayagüez, San Pedro de Macorís

The construction of facilities in the Port of Mayagüez in Puerto Rico and San Pedro de Macorís in the Dominican Republic has begun, paving the way for a maritime ferry route slated to launch in late 2024 by operator Baleària.

During a news conference in Mayagüez, Baleària President Adolfo Utor described the connection between both ports — for which the company will invest $100 million — as a “highway, an umbilical cord to bring the two islands together. We’re convinced that we will contribute to its economic development and progress.”

“Today we start the refurbishing of this maritime station. We have to recondition and urbanize the entire facility and we’re going to make a significant investment and work closely with concessionaires in this sense,” Utor said. “We want this maritime station to be in line with the growing demands of our clients, both commercial and tourists.”

Baleària’s plans call for launching daily service between the ports, transporting up to 1,000 passengers and 400 vehicles per trip. The ferry to be used — which will be equipped with amenities such as rooms, a pool and a restaurant — will operate on liquefied natural gas, keeping emissions and contamination levels low, Utor said.

Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Baleària operates a fleet of 35 vessels across six countries, transporting approximately 5 million passengers annually. 

During the press conference, Utor also acknowledged the support from municipal, central and federal governments, including the necessity of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s presence at the international port for the project’s advancement.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi outlined the project’s scope, including the “construction of a new multifunctional passenger terminal in the port of San Pedro de Macorís and in the adaptation of more than 100,000 square meters of these facilities in the Port of Mayagüez.” The facilities, he said, “will have the latest in technology and the route is scheduled to begin after the summer.”

The governor also highlighted the project’s potential to improve “the mobility of passengers and merchandise between the Antilles, access to European markets and boost tourism and trade between our jurisdictions.”

Francisco Noya, president of Puerto de Mayagüez Development Inc., said that negotiations with the Spanish ferry operator began in 2016 but were postponed due to Hurricane María, the 2020 earthquakes and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a route that will be of great importance for the economic, commercial and tourism development of the western region,” he said in the news conference. “This is a project that, if backed by mayors of the western region, will be successful.”

“We have to have different excursions and tourism attractions in place for passengers and a unified movement by all municipalities will make it possible to have that product available for our visitors,” Noya said.

The ferry journey from the Port of Mayagüez to the Port of San Pedro de Macorís is 133 miles, which is estimated to take 7 hours, allowing for daily round trips, Utor said.

Utor also hinted at other projects in Mayagüez including a potential route to Punta Cana, which takes about 2.5 hours, “so imagine the tourist movement,” he said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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