Long-term agreements with Carnival Corporation and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings are coming to an end with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) in 2017. The NYCEDC oversees New York’s cruise program and both the Manhattan and Brooklyn terminals.
“There is a lot of focus taking place in the first half of the year to look at future opportunities for these lines in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The preliminary conversations are very exciting,” said Joshua Nelson, senior vice president, asset management, NYCEDC. “We’re hopeful, the devil is the in the details. Both (terminals) have exhibited a strong commitment to the New York City market and we continue to see a lot of consumer demand in NYC.”
Among the highlights from 2016 in the Big Apple were an inaugural visit by Ponant, the christening of the Carnival Vista, and the official flick of the shorepower switch in Brooklyn.
“Our operators at both terminals do an excellent job,” continued Nelson. “One of the things we are focused on is the passenger experience. For a first time user at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, things can become quite congested. We have teamed up with consultants to improve that experience.”
They have looked at signage, passenger flow and even traffic light timing on the West Side Highway.
The NYCEDC is moving toward a common terminal operator in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, and bidding closed on a request for proposals in March 2016. Nelson said news was imminent.
“We had a strong response,” he said. “We have been working diligently. We are in a good spot for contracting. It will create a lot of synergies, and cost savings for the lines themselves. We know we’re expensive, but we are committed to making sure those costs are manageable.”
The business remains somewhat seasonal, with an uptick for fall foliage runs in September and October.
“We have discussed (incentives) for Canada/New England sailings in the summer,” Nelson added. “We’d love to see those itineraries expand, but we haven’t rolled it out at this point in time. In Brooklyn we are constantly working to manage the costs there. Official incentive programs are something we are looking at as we think about the future of the business and how to grow it at both facilities.”
Maintaining strong partnerships with Carnival and Norwegian will sustain future growth, according to Nelson, as well as working with Disney Cruise Line to grow its seasonal homeporting.
“I see Brooklyn with a lot of potential,” he noted. “There are some limitations to the ship configuration there, but that is a focus of ours for the next five years. It’s very well laid out. Cunard loves the facility and likes the ability to get passengers in and out quickly. We can really unlock the potential with a few modifications to accommodate larger vessels with overhanging lifeboats.”
In Manhattan, the plans zero in on Pier 90.
“The configuration there is slightly different than Pier 88. Our future is really maximizing the utilization of our facilities. We don’t have the ability to simply expand terminals. It’s a focus on maximizing what we’ve got.”
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