(1:02 p.m. EST) -- Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings will break ground on a new cruise terminal -- dubbed the Pearl -- in Miami in May 2018. The opening is scheduled to coincide with the arrival of Norwegian Encore in November 2019.
"More of our vessels homeport in Miami than in any port around the world," said Frank del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. at a press conference at this week's Seatrade conference.
NCLH's brands alone bring more than one million passengers a year to Miami, and the company has christened six Norwegian Cruise Line vessels and one Oceania ship at the port.
In order to strengthen its partnership with the port and elevate the passenger experience, NCLH's new terminal will be built from scratch and dedicated to the company's three brands Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
The terminal will be 166,000-square-feet, capable of servicing ships of up to 5,000 passengers. It will be totally transparent, and will feature indoor and outdoor lounges and will be designed to facilitate fast and efficient embarkation and disembarkation, as well as expedited security screening and luggage check-in.
There also will be a separate lounge and service area for the arrival of large groups and charters, and an all-new parking garage including a valet parking area with direct access to the terminal.
NCLH is calling the terminal its "Pearl," as its design takes inspiration from the sea.
Construction on the terminal, which was designed by Bermello Ajamil & Partners, an expert in cruise terminal design, will begin in May -- pending final approval by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners. It is expected to be completed in November 2019, just in time for the arrival of the line's last Breakaway-Plus class ship, Norwegian Encore.
--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor