New York City has announced a new plan to utilize the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal as a temporary shelter for asylum seekers.
The terminal, which is set to become the homeport for MSC Cruises later this year, will provide temporary housing, food, medical care, and other services for up to 1,000 single men until the Spring when it will revert to its original purpose as a cruise terminal.
Controversy Surrounding the Use of the Terminal as a Shelter
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced on January 21 the city will soon open a fifth Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal to temporarily serve the continued influx of asylum seekers arriving in New York City.
This move by the city has received mixed reactions, with some advocates for those in need of shelter criticizing the plan, stating that the waterfront building is not suitable for housing people due to the risk of flooding and that the cruise terminal would be set up with tents inside.
“With more than 41,000 asylum seekers arriving in New York City since last spring and nearly 28,000 asylum seekers currently in our care, our city is at its breaking point,” said Mayor Adams. “This fifth Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center will provide approximately 1,000 asylum seekers with a place to stay, access support, and get to their final destination.”
This is besides the escalating border crises that have gripped the US in recent years and have been spiraling out of control.
The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal will also only be available as a shelter for a limited time, as MSC Cruises is set to begin using the building in the spring of 2023.
Economic Impact of MSC Cruises in New York City
The MSC Meraviglia will be sailing from the terminal year-round, offering a variety of itineraries to destinations such as the Bahamas, Bermuda, Florida, Canada, and New England. The ship will also have longer winter sailings to the Caribbean, including stops at MSC’s private island, Ocean Cay, a marine reserve in the Bahamas.
Mayor Eric Adams has emphasized the positive impact that MSC Cruises’ presence in New York City will have on the local economy. While MSC Meraviglia will use the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal as its home base late this year, the cruise line also celebrated the naming ceremony of its newest cruise ship, MSC Seascape, in New York.
Adams estimates that the company’s presence will result in $102 million in annual spending in the city’s restaurants, shops, and bars and predicts that the year-round cruises from the Brooklyn terminal will create up to 10,000 full-time jobs in the city.
This makes using the cruise terminal for an extended time extremely unlikely and increases the chances that asylum seekers will need to be relocated again very soon.
“We’re anticipating 219,000 passengers arriving in New York City per year on MSC Cruises. This is a real boost to our economy, a boost to tourism, and a boost to contributing to our local communities,” said Mayor Adams a few weeks ago.
“We want to thank this great organization for seeing the importance of not only cruising, but giving back in a very real way. The year-round cruises from the Brooklyn terminal will create a huge boost to our tourism and create up to 10,000 full-time jobs in the city”
Besides the 171,598 gross tons MSC Meraviglia, which was the sixth largest cruise ship in the world when launched in 2016, several other major cruise lines have announced plans to sail from the New York area this year.
This includes cruise ships such as Carnival Venezia, Anthem of the Seas, Norwegian Getaway, and Norwegian Gem, although these will all operate from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal.