|If you've never called at (or heard of) Honduras' Roatan, that's about to change. Carnival Corporation has announced that it will build and operate a brand-new cruise terminal in the Western Caribbean port. Development is expected to begin this fall and will wind up sometime in the summer of 2009.|
Carnival Corp. is at the forefront of revamping the Caribbean -- a cruise region that's been losing steam. In an effort to keep new ships coming in and people coming back, the company has been building new ports or at least creating new experiences. A recent example of this strategy is Grand Turk. Though smaller ships and luxury lines such as Crystal and Silversea called at the small island in the past, Carnival Corp. positioned it as a mainstream port by designing a brand-new cruise terminal that's a destination in its own right, with retail shops, a recreation area right on the beach and a huge pool.
The $50 million facility in Roatan, which will be called "Mohogany Bay - Roatan," will also be more than just a pier. In the works are:
Two berths capable of accommodating post-Panamax vessels -- and up to 7,000 passengers daily.
A 35,000-square-ft. Welcome Center featuring retail shops, restaurants, bars, a nature trail, a 60-ft.-high lighthouse and a lagoon with cascading waterfalls.
A transportation hub with the ability to accommodate taxis, rental cars and tour buses.
With Roatan and Grand Turk, Carnival Corp. is following in the footsteps of Costa Maya, a self-made destination that was carved out of the jungle expressly for cruise passengers. What's different about Roatan, however, is that lines are already going there, including Celebrity and NCL, and Carnival Corp. lines Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Costa and P&O. But up until now, it has been considered more exotic than mainstream.
Within five years of operation, "Mohogany Bay - Roatan" is expected to host 225 cruise ship calls and 500,000 passengers annually, according to a company statement.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor