Global Ports Holding CEO Kutman: Plan Is To Keep Growing

mehmet kutman

Global Ports Holding continues to make massive investments across its cruise port portfolio, while adding new port destinations globally.

Cruise Industry News had an exclusive interview with Mehmet Kutman, Chairman & CEO Global Ports Holding on the company’s plans for 2023 and beyond.

What do you see as the big news at Global Ports this year?

KUTMAN: Set to open in May 2023, the recently expanded Nassau Cruise Port is one of the only cruise ports in the region that can welcome three of the largest cruise ships in the world at one time. In total six simultaneous cruise vessels can be accommodated at the same time.  The $300 million investment will transform the port into one of the finest cruise ports in the world through pier upgrades, extensions of select berths, and the establishment of new marina and mega-yacht zones.

The real transformation will be the new waterfront experience that will feature a new terminal building, event and entertainment spaces (including a 3,500-person amphitheater), and locally-owned shops and restaurants that will be enjoyed by locals and visitors.

The passenger capacity of the port will increase from 20,000 to over 33,000 passengers per day once the project is finished.

Can you take us through some of your recent deals as you expand?

KUTMAN: In San Juan, GPH has just signed an agreement to upgrade, expand, and manage the cruise piers at the San Juan Cruise Port, Puerto Rico. The $425 million project, which will start following the concession’s financial close will include the repair and refurbishment of the existing port facilities and the construction of up to two state-of-the-art cruise terminals that will welcome the world’s largest cruise ships.

Prince Rupert Cruise Port is GPH’s first port in North America. The terminal operating agreement covers the terminal functions management, including overseeing the local integrated passenger shore excursion program, managing the cruise schedule and the relationships with cruise lines calling on the city while attracting additional lines for future expansion, and ensuring cruise passenger services meet the highest standards of quality.

And for Alicante Cruise Port, GPH has been awarded preferred bidder status to operate Alicante. GPH plans to invest up to 2 million euro into refurbishing and modernizing the cruise terminal.

Can you highlight some of your key infrastructure developments and investments?

KUTMAN:  For the Las Palmas, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote cruise ports, there is an investment of 40 million euro to the three ports. The project features a new sustainable terminal building and infrastructure improvement with low carbon-footprint recycled materials.

For Antigua Cruise Port, there is over $25 million being spent for the creation of an ultramodern waterfront day club featuring several pools, a state-of-the-art casino, local food-and-beverage outlets, and approximately 70 to 100 retail spaces for local entrepreneurs. This exciting new attraction will be accessible by cruise passengers, other visitors, and locals and residents of all ages. The redevelopment will also include upgrades to the Heritage Quay Shopping Centre.

For Tarragona Cruise Port, there is a self-sufficient terminal and GPH will invest up to 5.5 million euro into building a new state of the art modular cruise terminal, which will utilize solar power to ensure the sustainable provision of the terminal’s energy needs.

When you partner with a port/government, what are you looking for in a deal? How do you evaluate potential partnerships?

KUTMAN: Our strategic plans have not been changed by Covid, the growth drivers for the global cruise industry remain post Covid and so to our ambitions and plans. With COVID over, we are full speed ahead with the new port projects.

Our number one challenge is ensuring we select the right cruise ports in the right locations and then deliver effectively on our plans for each and every port to be integrated to the GPH way.

Our number one opportunity is the potential to grow the number of ports we operate.

How do you structure your agreements so its a win-win for three parties: you, cruise lines and also a government/local economy?

KUTMAN: We have the business model and the investment power to transform cruise ports and make them future-ready. To each port we operate, we bring the experience and know how that can only come from operating such a sizable network of cruise ports.

You have won port concessions in Europe, North America, and Asia, what region do you expect to continue expanding the most in and why?

KUTMAN: We will continue our focus on the Caribbean, and looking to expand in North America, with strong demand in Alaska. We are looking to expand into Northern Europe and we want to continue to grow in the Mediterranean focusing on strategic ports.

Why should governments consider an agreement with GPH?

KUTMAN: As the world’s largest independent cruise port operator. We operate an open access regime.

Our global network is the key strength. We bring and combine years of experience to the network, as well as different ways of operations and best practices. The collaboration and communication through the network pave the way to success.

We have the business model and the investment power to transform cruise ports and make them future-ready as the number and size of cruise ships increase.

We understand the value of collaboration with all counterparts especially the port cities. Together with them we focus on enhancing guest experience. We study and understand guest experience, identify pain points, and develop our service accordingly.

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