San Juan Cruise Port Completes Major Milestone

A significant milestone has been reaches in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with Global Ports Holding taking control of the port and big upgrades starting.

After reaching an agreement in 2022 to manage the San Juan (Puerto Rico) cruise port, Global Ports Holding announced that debt financing for the project has been secured, and upgrades to the facility are set to begin.

The investment will upgrade the port’s infrastructure, boosting its operations in the competitive Caribbean market.

Upgrades to Cruise Piers, Terminals Are Planned

Global Ports Holding (GPH) has announced that its subsidiary, San Juan Cruise Port (SJCP), has closed on the debt financing deal that injects $187 million into several major infrastructure upgrades. The development means that the SJCP now officially manages the facility.

The issuance of longterm bonds coupled with equity capital from GPH will finance the first phase of improvements to the port. The financial pact is a public-private partnership that includes a 30-year concession agreement with the Puerto Rico Ports Authority. Under the arrangement, the cruise port will pay a $77 million concession fee to the authority.

Another $100 million will be invested into infrastructure upgrades and repairs at the port’s Pier 4 and Pan American Piers, along with improvements to existing terminal buildings.

At the same time, Global Ports Holding will use its management strategies to modernize technology, equipment, and various systems in ways that will benefit cruise guests, cruise lines, and local vendors.

San Juan Cruise Port
San Juan Cruise Port

We are delighted to welcome San Juan Cruise Port into the world’s largest cruise port network. As well as being a fantastic destination, San Juan is a strategically important port that is perfectly positioned to play a pivotal role in Eastern and Southern Caribbean itineraries for decades to come,said Mehmet Kutman, chairman and CEO of Global Ports Holding.

The executive believes that San Juan has the potential to emerge as a leading cruise port in the region, delivering an economic boon to Puerto Rico and its residents once the improvements are completed.

The successful closing of this transaction represents a milestone for our company and for Puerto Rico. Everyone at GPH is looking forward to us delivering on our plans to bring the iconic San Juan Cruise Port to its rightful, pre-eminent position in the Caribbean cruise industry for the benefit of all Puerto Ricans,added Kutman.

A second round of investments is planned after the port meets certain criteria, including a recovery to pre-pandemic cruise arrival levels. When that happens, the SJPC will raise and invest an additional $250 million to build new cruise piers and a new terminal. The new docks — Piers 11 and 12 — will be able to accommodate the world’s largest cruise ships.

Big Growth for the Port of San Juan

In pre-pandemic 2019, San Juan received 1.8 million cruise guests, a number that would have made it the third-largest port in the GPH network. Like other cruise destinations, arrivals plummeted during the pandemic pause and have not yet fully recovered. However, the winter 2024 season is poised for robust arrivals.

Read Also: The Most IDEAL San Juan Cruise Excursions

The 2024 winter season, which runs from November 2023 to April 2024, will see ships from 19 cruise lines calling at San Juan. These include Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages, Ritz-Carlton, and MSC Cruises. The port anticipates 264 ship calls in total, for the high season.

San Juan Cruise Port
Cruise Ships Docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico (Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald)

Global Ports Holding has experienced substantial growth in recent years, and has focused on expanding its footprint in North America and the Caribbean, where the management company has contracts with Nassau, Antigua, and St. Lucia.

Its management agreements typically include a wide range of improvements and redevelopments of existing port infrastructure.

In Nassau, a $300 million investment in 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.

Its most recent agreement in the Caribbean came in 2023, with a 30-year concession contract for St. Lucia’s Pointe Seraphine Cruise Port. Global Ports Holding has a strong foothold in Europe as well, with contracts to manage major cruise ports such as Barcelona, Lisbon, and Venice.

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