Port Operator Takes Over at St. Lucia, Expansion on the Horizon

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Global Ports Holding (GPH), the cruise port management firm headquartered in the UK, officially took over the operation of Port Castries, St. Lucia, on April 30, 2024. The island nation signed a memorandum of understanding with the port operator in the fall of 2022, and after 18 months of negotiations, the agreement is now finalized.

The pact bolsters GPH’s expansion into the Caribbean, following similar management agreements with San Juan, Puerto Rico; Antigua; and Nassau, Bahamas.

Saint Lucia accommodates cruise ships at two terminals. The main facility is the Pointe Seraphine Cruise Port Terminal, which is about a 20-minute walk from downtown, while the smaller La Place Carenage Cruise Port Terminal is located closer to downtown.

Port Castries, Saint Lucia Cruise Port Ceremony
Port Castries, Saint Lucia Cruise Port Ceremony

Under the 30-year concession contract, GPH will invest in a series of upgrades and improvements to cruise facilities at Pointe Seraphine. The management firm has not revealed the financial terms of the deal or the amount of its investment in the redevelopment of the port.

The port operator is known for expanding and upgrading facilities once it takes over management. In Nassau, Bahamas, for instance, GPH has invested $187 million on port infrastructure.

At St. Lucia’s Pointe Seraphine, GPH’s plans indicate that at least one cruise ship berth will be expanded to accommodate the world’s largest ships. Currently, these include Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class and Icon-class vessels, all of which exceed 1,100 feet in length.

Also, at Pointe Seraphine, two additional berths will be realigned, and a boardwalk will be constructed to provide easier access to the town of Castries from the cruise terminal. Also, a new vendor arcade and ferry facility will be built at Fishermen’s Village at Banannes Bay.

What we have is a new economic arrangement. We will get the best of both worlds – we let you develop the infrastructure in exchange for a “rental” of the cruise port for 30 years, but you will pay us. You will employ people and you will improve the quality of life of the people of Saint Lucia.  That is what is most important to me,” said Philip Pierre, prime minister of St. Lucia.

Port Operator Hopes to Reach 1 Million Annual Cruise Arrivals

St. Lucia is a port call on many Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries, and reached a record in cruise arrivals in 2019, when 790,000 cruisers visited. With the planned cruise terminal improvements, along with marketing and other efforts, GPH expects the cruise passenger volume to exceed 1 million annually.

Things to Do in St. Lucia
Cruise Ships in St. Lucia (Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald)

Like other Caribbean destinations, St. Lucia’s high season begins in October and continues through March. Cruise ship calls during summer significantly drop off, but several ships are scheduled to call in summer 2024, including Disney Cruise Line’s 2,700-guest Disney Magic, Royal Caribbean’s 2,000-guest Rhapsody of the Seas, Princess Cruises’ 3,100-guest Emerald Princess, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 700-guest Seven Seas Mariner. Rhapsody of the Seas is slated to call weekly at St. Lucia on 7-day cruises offered roundtrip from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Read Also: Things to Do in St. Lucia While on a Cruise

GPH officials pointed to the need for St. Lucia to be able to accommodate the world’s largest ships if the port is to substantially grow.

Enhancements to the berth at Pointe Seraphine in Castries will assist in reaching our passenger traffic targets by accommodating the world’s largest cruise ships. These days, cruise lines are constructing vessels that are wider and longer than ever before. It’s imperative that we modernize our port infrastructure to welcome these new ships and maintain our competitiveness as a premier cruising destination,said Lancelot Arnold, director of GPH Eastern Caribbean and general manager of Saint Lucia Cruise Port.

The management company has not provided a timeline for completion of improvements to the St. Lucia cruise terminals and port area, but said it would work closely with local government and other stakeholders as the project moves forward.

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