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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, May 21, 2024


The pier at the Ann A. Abramson Marine Facility in Frederiksted is ready to greet the largest cruise ships plying the seas, the Port Authority announced Thursday.
A just-completed $3.6 million upgrade of the pier included the construction of four breasting dolphins and one mooring dolphin and will allow St. Croix to accommodate the behemoth "eagle class" cruise ships now coming into service, according to Port Authority executive director Gordon Finch. The actual platform of the dock was not expanded, he said.
Before the modifications, the pier could only handle vessels up to 101,000 gross tons," Finch said. "Now, it can serve ships up to 142,000 gross tons, like the Voyager and Explorer of the Seas, the largest cruise ships in the world."
Finch said the docking facility expansion was "part of an ongoing initiative by the Port Authority to improve its facilities and increase the marketability of St. Croix as a cruise destination."
Work in Frederiksted began in April. The contract for the pier upgrade design and construction was let in early 1999, and some of the new sections were prefabricated in Texas and Florida and then barged to St. Croix.
The two pairs of breasting dolphins were installed between the end of the pier and an existing mooring dolphin. The new mooring dolphin was driven into the ocean floor 230 feet seaward of the one already in place. Prefabricated catwalks connect the pier to the breasting dolphins to make it easier for line handlers to secure ships as they dock.
When the Frederiksted pier was rebuilt after Hurricane Hugo in the early 1990s, it was designed to handle 70,000-ton cruise ships, the largest then at sea. The pier was just barely able to accommodate the 105,000-ton vessels such as Carnival Cruise Lines’ Destiny that soon came on line.
With today's new generation of "eagle class" ships too long for the pier, expansion was essential in order for them to make St. Croix a port of call.
Now that the project is complete, two 140,000-ton cruise ships will be able to tie up in Frederiksted at the same time.
Meanwhile, the Port Authority is in the process of reconstructing the first span of the pier that extends out from shore. After the section was split apart by Hurricane Lenny last November, Hovensa constructed a temporary span to keep the pier operational.
Finch said the reconstruction will be completed in September. The new cruise ship season begins on Nov. 1 and ends next May 31. During that time, St. Croix will see a 22 percent increase in cruise ship calls — a projected total of 142, up from the 116 last season, according information released by the West Indian Co. earlier this week.
According to the WICO release previewing the 2000-2001 winter season, the first ship to call in Frederiksted will be the Galaxy, on Oct. 22. The Carnival Victory will replace the line's Destiny, starting Oct. 25.

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