The West Indian Co. Ltd.’s board accepted a three-year cruise operations strategic plan, including a single tariff cruise passenger fee, at its Feb. 9 meeting, according to the government-owned port entity.
Most of the board activities described in a statement from WICO were further developments of actions taken last year. The $13.40 fee will go into effect Oct. 1, 2016, and is applicable to passengers arriving at the WICO dock and the Austin “Babe” Monsanto Marine Terminal.
The new tariff was announced at the WICO board’s Dec. 17 meeting and follows the board’s decision in August to charge Chief Executive Officer and President Joseph Boschulte with negotiating with cruise lines on WICO’s behalf.
The cruise operations strategic plan also includes preferred berthing agreements, improvements to berthing areas, discussions with European-based cruise lines and development of a second berth in the Crown Bay area. The board gave Boschulte authorization to negotiate those agreements in August of 2015 and discussed them in December.
According to WICO, the board’s action to improve and enhance berthing options is designed to increase cruise ship capacity in the Virgin Islands in anticipation of cruise industry growth in the Asian market as well as the full lifting of U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba. The WICO board also gave preliminary approval to plans to update Havensight Mall, furthering discussions on the subject from its December 2015 meeting.
Owned by the V.I. Government Employees Retirement System, Havensight Mall is managed by WICO. The board directed Boschulte to begin design work on the WICO areas then propose a joint plan for overall development of the entire facility as mandated by Gov. Kenneth Mapp in his January 2016 State of the Territory address. In other action, the WICO board voted to move forward with the project to encapsulate the inner berth as soon as the Army Corps of Engineers permits are secured. The inner berth is the oldest section of WICO’s dock infrastructure and the hardening and upgrade is necessary to maintain and protect its structural integrity. That action was also discussed by WICO in December. The WICO board also directed Boschulte and the company’s financial advisers to complete all arrangements for the financing of the proposed capital improvements and approved the purchase of a $300,000 line boat to assist with mooring and unmooring cruise ships. The board also authorized financial support for the Ports of the Virgin Islands presentation at the March 2016 Seatrade Cruise Global conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.