NCL buys Belize land to develop $50m cruise port
Norwegian Cruise Line has purchased some 75 acres in Belize for a planned cruise ship port destination.
The land, which is called Harvest Caye, has two islands in the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts in Belize. Norwegian said it planned to invest $50 million in the project.
“As our fleet continues to grow to 15 ships by 2017, we expect that we will double the number of guests sailing on our Western Caribbean itineraries, and, once this new destination is complete, bring four times as many guests to Belize than we do today,” said Kevin Sheehan, NCL President and CEO in a statement.
Sheehan said the company planned to develop the destination using a “sustainable design and eco-friendly principles that will retain the natural beauty and local culture of this tropical paradise.”
The two islands had previously been approved for a resort project, Caribbean Journal reported.
NCL’s new Breakaway began sailing this summer from New York to Bermuda, calling in Dockyard.
NCL said the destination could add up to 1,000 new local jobs, and help “relieve cruise tourism pressures in Belize City,” as part of the country’s National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan.
“At Norwegian, we have a strong commitment to the environment through our Eco-Smart Cruising philosophy,” said Colin Murphy, vice president for destination and strategic development at Norwegian Cruise Line.
The Orlando, Florida-based IDEA Inc. will be designing the destination, having previously worked with developers to create branded destinations in St Lucia, the Bahamas, Jamaica and elsewhere.
The master plan is still under development, the company said, although the tentative vision is to create a cruise destination of two locations: an island destination with docking facilities and a mainland connection point for inland tours.
The project is slated to include a floating pier, and island village, a lagoon and a beach area.
Norwegian and the government of Belize have signed a memorandum of understanding that “calls for adherence to Belize’s environmental standards,” along with the creation of local jobs.
The agreement comes after an earlier proposal was rejected by Belize’s Cabinet, Caribbean Journal reported.
Major components of the project will include a floating pier, island village with open-air structures on raised platforms, marina, transportation hubs for tours to the mainland, a lagoon for a variety of water sports and a relaxing beach area.
The goal, according to NCL, to design an authentic experience grounded in the storyline of nature, ancient culture, art, adventure and music that celebrates Belizean, Mayan and Garifuna history and culture.
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