(11:30 a.m. EST) -- Port Canaveral officials announced Thursday that a new $85 million cruise complex will be constructed next year in order to accommodate larger ships, suggesting that the soon-to-be world's largest might be looking into the facility as a homeport option.
"The new cruise terminal complex will handle the largest cruise ships currently sailing as well as the 6,000-passenger vessels in design," reads a press release from the port. The only ship of that size currently "in design" is Royal Caribbean's new Oasis-class ship, which is unnamed and scheduled to be delivered in mid-2016.
"No specific ships are in mind, but we will be able to accommodate all new ships coming for home port and port of call, including the Quantum coming here in fall 2014 for Port of Call visits from New York," Port Canaveral CEO John E. Walsh told Cruise Critic, when asked whether something is in the works for Oasis III.
Royal Caribbean did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In addition to a 180,000-square-foot two-story terminal (to be dubbed Terminal 1), the project will include a 1,400-foot-long berth and parking for 1,000 vehicles, all slated to be completed by November 2014.
The port also added a terminal in 2012 at a cost of $65 million, bringing the total number of berths up to seven. Walsh tells us that, after the eighth berth is completed in 2014, there are more projects in the works: "We are planning four new terminals during the next 10-15 years. One is 2014-2015, one will replace [terminals 3 and 4] in 2016-2017 and then two added terminals likely in 2021 and 2025 based on current trends. We also will have terminal expansion coming for [cruise terminals 5 and 10]."
The port is adding more than just terminals, however. On Monday, to coincide with its 60th anniversary, it opened a new seven-story Exploration Tower, which offers indoor and outdoor observation decks. It also has lots of other amenities on its list of upcoming additions, including a welcome center and museum; an amphitheater with 3,000 seats; a campground; and a marketplace at the Cove, featuring local tented vendors.
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Associate Editor