The largest cruise terminal in the United States begins construction in Miami


Diving Brief:

  • What is expected to be the largest cruise terminal in the United States opened last week. The cruise division of MSC Group has started work at its future terminal in the Port of Miami, with delivery scheduled for the end of 2023.
  • The $350 million project offers hope for the cruise industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, and according to two experts is a sign that the hospitality sector is coming back to life after two years of managing the challenges of COVID-19.
  • The project will include a four-story, 490,000 square foot building capable of handling up to 36,000 passengers per day, with berthing space for up to three vessels at a time.

Overview of the dive:

Fincantieri Infrastructure will build the terminal, designed by Miami-based architecture firm Arquitectonica. The facility will accommodate MSC’s largest and greenest cruise ships. Most deployed ships will be able to plug into the local power grid at dockside, part of Miami’s plans to enable power connectivity ashore.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the project is part of a larger vision for the city.

“In Miami-Dade County, we are moving into the future with investments that will drive growth and expand opportunities for our local economy,” she said in MSC’s announcement. “As our port continues to grow, the opportunities for our community – in terms of jobs, contracts and services – can only increase.”

Gregory Rumpel, who focuses on the hospitality industry at real estate services company JLL, lives near the cruise port and has been counting the ships that have passed through there in recent months. They are rising, he told Construction Dive, and cruise line profitability is sure to follow.

Due to Florida businesses remaining open and Governor Ron Desantis easing COVID-19 related regulations and restrictions, tourism has flourished in Miami over the past 18 months, according to Rumpel.

“The correlation between cruises and hospitality is inextricably linked,” said Rumpel, senior general manager of JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group. “Anything that’s a hit in the cruise industry is a hit in the hospitality industry in Miami.”

room for growth

The dollar value of housing starts for hotel and leisure construction projects fell 44% in 2020, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Those numbers have improved, but business travel is unlikely to pick up until next year, according to Dodge chief economist Richard Branch.

While things have improved in Miami, where Rumpel said there’s still plenty of room for business travel growth, hospitality startups across the country are also expected to show signs of life.

“These sectors will remain under the pandemic cloud for some time as they are most exposed to future waves of the COVID-19 virus,” Brand said. “As such, hotel and leisure housing starts are expected to grow this year, but remain below the level of construction seen in 2019.”

For example, the Las Vegas Convention Visitors Authority sees this advance on a not-so-distant horizon. In his tourism construction bulletin released Feb. 25, the authority forecast $4.5 billion in tourism construction spending by 2024, adding an estimated 7,602 additional hotel rooms and 791,000 square feet of convention space.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, Station Casinos will complete its $750 million Durango project in southwest Las Vegas, adding 211 hotel rooms and 21,000 square feet of convention space, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Additionally, the $1.9 billion MSG Sphere at The Venetian – which just installed support for the LED screen with the highest resolution in the world – will end in the second half of 2023 and add 17,500 concert hall seats.


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