Global Ports Holding is expanding its reach in the Caribbean with a new agreement to manage cruise port operations in Saint Lucia. The fast-growing, UK-based company already oversees three busy cruise ports in the region.
UK Firm to Manage Pointe Seraphine Cruise Port
Add Saint Lucia to the growing list of cruise ports operated by Global Ports Holding (GPH), the London-based firm that manages port operations in more than two dozen destinations worldwide and typically invests in its ports with expansions and upgrades to cruise facilities.
On August 9, 2023, the port operator announced it had signed a 30-year concession agreement with the government of Saint Lucia to operate the Pointe Seraphine Cruise Port in Castries, Saint Lucia. The pact carries a 10-year extension option.
In the Caribbean, the company also operates the ports in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Antigua; and Nassau, the Bahamas.
A frequent port call on Eastern Caribbean cruises, Saint Lucia is in the West Indies, just south of Martinique. The island welcomed 590,000 cruise guests from March 2022 to March 2023; the number is down from about 700,000 pre-pandemic.
The agreement with Saint Lucia widens GPH’s footprint in the region, where its largest operation is in Nassau, which welcomed more than 2.2 million cruise guests in just the first six months of 2023.
A $300 million investment in Nassau’s berth facilities and cruise guest services was unveiled in May 2023. With the upgrades, the port can accommodate three Oasis-class ships at the same time and a total of six ships docking on the same day.
Pier Expansion, Retail Upgrades Planned
Although Saint Lucia’s port is much smaller than Nassau and the other ports GPH manages in the Caribbean, the company has big plans for the island destination.
While not attaching an investment amount to its announcement, GPH pledged to expand the existing cruise pier at Pointe Seraphine, enabling the largest cruise ships to dock and increasing the port’s capacity.
GPH also plans to invest in upgrading the retail experience at the cruise port, including the redevelopment of the Vendor’s Arcade and the design and development of a new Fishermen’s Village at Bananes Bay, with the goal of providing a new space for local vendors.
Additionally, the company will invest in upland development at Soufriere Bay, including creating a new amphitheatre and food and beverage area.
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“I am delighted that the Government of Saint Lucia has awarded GPH the cruise port concession for Saint Lucia. This concession represents another significant milestone for GPH as we continue successfully growing our global cruise port network,” said Mehmet Kutman, chairman and CEO of GPH.
“The GPH team very much look forward to working with all stakeholders to build further on the success of this wonderful destination,” he added.
Global Ports Holding did not reveal a timetable for the planned improvements, but the completion of the extended pier and other infrastructure projects are expected to eventually increase cruise guest arrivals at the Saint Lucia port to more than 1 million.
GPH Expands Caribbean Port Operations
GPH, already the world’s largest cruise port operator, has expanded its presence globally in the post-pandemic cruise landscape. With most of its operations in Europe, including at the major cruise ports of Barcelona, Venice, and Lisbon, the company appears to have its sights set on further growth in the Americas.
GPH signed its agreement with Antigua in 2019, and in 2021 opened a new, $30 million cruise pier at the island’s St. John’s Port. At the San Juan Cruise Port, a 2022 agreement between Puerto Rico Ports Authority and GPH provides an investment of $100 million towards critical infrastructure projects..
In addition to its Caribbean contracts, GPH operates one other port in the Americas, Prince Rupert Cruise Port, in British Columbia, a growing port of call on Alaska itineraries.