(12:15 p.m. EDT) -- Carnival Corporation & plc, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and the government of Saint Lucia have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture to manage the existing cruise ship pier and terminal, and to design, construct and operate a new cruise port in Vieux Fort on the southern part of the island.

"This is an exciting day for our guests who already love the beauty and deep culture of Saint Lucia and an important step in sustaining cruise tourism growth for the island," said Giora Israel, Carnival Corp.'s senior vice president of global port and destination development.

Together, the brands of Carnival Corp. and RCCL account for 75 percent of all cruise ship deployment to Saint Lucia, with vessels stopping at the Port of Castries. Under the new agreement, the joint venture would develop the island's infrastructure to support some of the brands' newest and largest ships; it would also open up the southern part of the island, which has not been readily accessible to the cruise industry.