This latest Genesis news comes just two months after we reported that a new Jamaican cruise port, Falmouth, was being constructed to accommodate the coming RCI beasts. We also reported that there will be at least six ports ready to accommodate the Genesis vessels in the Eastern and Western Caribbean when the ships launch. At this time, however, an RCI spokesman tells us that no ports are currently ready to handle the giants -- both in terms of increased passenger load and needed port infrastructure.
Information on itineraries isn't expected until mid 2008.
So why not send Genesis to Miami, currently the world's busiest port, and Royal Caribbean's go-to embarkation spot?
According to a Miami Herald report, "the Miami port does not have the space for the Genesis ships and Royal Caribbean's two Freedom ships now based there -- currently the Miami cruise line's largest." In order to accommodate Genesis, the port would have to swap Freedom and Liberty out, which combined have a few thousand more passengers than a single Genesis ship.
Royal Caribbean also tells Cruise Critic that decision simply came down to business. Port Everglades was able to provide RCI with the best deal.
In order to handle the dramatic increase in passengers, the port is set for some upgrades, many of which will be paid for by Royal Caribbean.
Ft. Lauderdale will upgrade its Terminal 18 in two phases. The first expansion will make it possible to accommodate Navigator of the Seas and Independence of the Seas by winter 2008. The second will double the size of Terminal 18 to handle the Genesis ships' increased passenger flow and ship size.
A 1,200-vehicle parking structure will be added to Midport, one of two parking facilities at Port Canaveral. This structure will bump the total of available spaces in the Midport area to 3,203 spaces. Roadways leading to and from the cruise terminal areas are scheduled to be widened and improved to accommodate more taxis and for more efficient traffic flow.
Part of the costs of the upgrade will be paid for by passengers, via a $5.70 surcharge to Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara cruisers when disembarking and embarking in Ft. Lauderdale. That's in addition to a $9.95 port-user charge already required of passengers. Royal Caribbean will roll the costs in the cruise fare.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor