Architectural drawing of what the renovated ferry terminal will look like on the Marigot waterfront.
MARIGOT–Creation of a multi-purpose cruise ship pier and renovation of the ferry terminal in Marigot are among the latest developments in Galisbay, the Port Authority has disclosed.
Design studies are underway already for the cruise ship pier. It entails creating the extra berthing needed by extending the current pier by 200 metres and dredging for a draft of up to nine metres. The studies include the related infrastructure needed for a cruise terminal. The pier extension will also offer more protection from the swells for the port and the Marigot waterfront.
Port Authority Managing Director Albéric Ellis emphasised that the cruise ship terminal is not intended solely for the use of cruise ships.
“In high season from November to April/May, the terminal will be used for the cruise ships with the equipment surrounding it, because the objective is not only to have regular cruise ship calls but also to have it used as a turnaround point for the regular commercial port operation which we already do now,” Ellis told The Daily Herald. “Other considerations involve areas to handle passengers, areas for provisioning, and parking for taxis and tour buses. This is what the design bureau is working on now.
“The challenge for us is to see how to create free-flowing circulation to avoid congestion in the port so buses and taxis can circulate. There may also be the possibility to have a tender service from Galisbay to Marigot or from Galisbay to other points.”
The engineering and design company that was awarded the bid held a first round of meetings with tourism professionals and port operators a week ago. The Port Authority, Collectivité, and Tourism Office are divulging the plans to cruise lines and mainly to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).
“The objective is to receive the final report from the design bureau by September 2020. In addition, we are simultaneously carrying out the environmental studies in order to obtain permission from the environmental authorities to begin dredging. Once the design is approved, then a bid will go out for the construction. We hope to start the project in 2021 for it to be completed in early 2022.”
The Port maintains its strategy of attracting the smaller niche market cruise lines, partly to avoid overwhelming Marigot. It anticipates the new pier will attract new cruise lines coming into the market.
“2019 was a good year for us with an increase in cruise ship calls, and the forecast continues to look good for 2020 and 2021,” Ellis stated. “We receive some 10,000 passengers per year and would like to multiply that by two or three.
“But we have always positioned ourselves to cater to smaller vessels in the capacity range of 80 to 800, and even a maximum of 1,200 passengers. Not only is the port designed to handle this capacity, Marigot can easily receive 200 to 300 passengers without causing major congestion.
“Aside from regular cruise ship calls we hope some of these smaller lines will use us for home-porting as Crystal Cruises did for two seasons. Unfortunately, they decided to leave the Caribbean for the Seychelles. But we still have Sea Dream Yacht Club home-porting with two vessels, Sea Dream 1 and Sea Dream 2. Home-porting is not only good for the port, but good for the destination, with various sectors benefitting from provisioning and other services.”
As for the commercial operations at the port, studies are ongoing to create 100,000 square metres of storage space and 300 metres of dock space, and to increase the draft.
Direction de L’Environment et L’Aménagememt et du Logement (DEAL) currently has the authority to review or redo the environmental studies based on the impact of Hurricane Irma. Ellis said he hoped this project will start in 2021 or 2022 providing the financing is in place.
Elsewhere on the port, construction is in progress for the new Frigodom warehouse which was destroyed by fire in February 2019. The objective is for the building to be ready by July or August this year.
Closer to realisation is the renovation and extension of the ferry terminal on the Marigot waterfront. Ellis said an architectural and design firm had won the bid for the ferry terminal renovation and its drawings have just been finalised.
“The construction bid will be launched in two weeks from now and remodelling should begin in April 2020, for delivery of the new building by August 2020. Given that the ferry terminal handles 300,000 passengers per year, we needed to increase the capacity of the building but to stay within its parameters. So, we are creating some extra space, but we feel today it is big enough. In the future the ferry terminal may move as part of the larger waterfront project.”
Clarifying the situation with the Collectivité’s waterfront development project, Ellis said that because of its magnitude it is currently “on stand-by”. It was decided it would be more feasible for the port to focus on the cruise ship pier and renovation of Fort Louis Marina which is underway for close to six million euros
“Our operational capacity at the marina now is only 65 to 70 per cent, but for the season 2020 and 2021 our objective is to get back up to 100 per cent. There won’t be any extra berths, but it means we get back to where we were before; i.e., fully operational.”
The port also has an anchorage project in the works for Marigot Bay. An engineering firm has just been retained to carry out a study for the organisation of anchoring. Ellis said up 80 to 100 moorings will be installed in the bay, with work starting at the latest in 2021. It will allow for better control of vessels, and protection of the bay.