The West Indian Company Limited expressed confidence Monday in the upcoming cruise ship season.
St. Thomas continues to be one of the most requested ports of call by passengers in the Eastern Caribbean, according to WICO’s announcement, released Monday.
"This cruise year, we will again see new and larger ships making port calls in St. Thomas, including the mega-ship Harmony of the Seas, Koningsdam and luxury small vessels such as the Aida Vita and Viking Star," the news release said.
WICO CEO Joseph Boschulte said in the statement he is optimistic both for the season and the future.
“We are very excited about the future outlook of cruise tourism in the territory for the next few years,” Boschulte said. “We have been diligently working to upgrade the dock for our cruise liner partners and to enhance the passengers’ shopping experience with several major, multi-million dollar capital improvement projects. Our dock restoration is underway and when completed, it will be able to accommodate even the largest class of the new cruise liners, and our renovation of Havensight Mall is almost finished.”
The news release also pointed to a $9.7 million contract between WICO and the American Bridge Company to complete the final phase of the dock restoration project to extend the life of the pier for at least another 50 years. The project is expected to be completed in March, the announcement said.
Despite the construction during the dock restoration, WICO said it is taking "every effort" to ensure that the berthing platform is usable, even when three ships are at the berth. After the project is completed, the dock will be able to accommodate all of the largest class of ships.
In January and again in April, WICO entered into preferred berthing agreements with the Carnival Corporation and Norwegian Caribbean Lines respectively. The Virgin Islands Port Authority entered into a similar berthing agreement with Royal Caribbean International. Both WICO and VIPA also entered into a single tariff agreement.
The current tariff for all ships entering the Port of Charlotte Amalie is now $13.40 per passenger, an increase of $2 per passenger.
The $1.8 million Havensight Mall Refurbishment project is expected to be complete by mid-December, according to the contractor, AT Construction. WICO will conduct further discussions with the Government Employees Retirement System about additional improvements, including restoring the wrought iron exterior fence to create even stronger curb appeal.
WICO expects the mall refurbishment project to create a modern ambiance for shopping and entertainment for both residents and cruise ship passengers and crew.