Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line signed a preferred berthing agreement earlier today with the British Virgin Islands. The deal between the two cruise lines and the BVI promises to deliver a total of 425,000 passengers yearly beginning in 2015 for the next 15 years or pay for lost tax revenues if the quota is not met. Disney Cruise Line is guaranteeing 75,000 passengers per year. The Disney Dream was mentioned during the signing ceremony when referencing the arrival of the new class of cruise ships that will be berthing in Tortola, but I have a feeling the Disney Fantasy will be the ship that will make most of the calls. Regardless, the Dream class ships have a passenger capacity of 4000. If you crunch the numbers, that would translate that Disney Cruise Line plans to have about 20 calls to Tortola per year beginning mid 2015.
Karl Holz, President of Disney Cruise Line, expressed his gratitude to the British Virgin Islands during the ceremony for sharing “nature’s little secret with the rest of the world.” Holz continued to say, “we are delighted to be here.”
The contract guarantees preferential berthing rights to both Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line. Preferential berthing rights essentially mean that DCL & NCL are able to request dates for berthing at the cruise pier rather than accept what dates are available. This was the part of the agreement that triggered Carnival to remove Tortola from future itineraries, which has since reversed course.
The agreement solidifies that British Virgin Islands will go forward with port expansion project that will include a modern and an environmentally friendly cruise facility. The government anticipates the agreement with Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line will help them secure funds to lengthen the dock and move forward on the project. A bidding process to select a contractor is underway and construction is expected to start in the upcoming months.
Disney Cruise Line hopes to make Tortola a prime destination and has agreed to provide hospitality and customer service training to the British Virgin Islands to better serve all cruise passengers visiting the territory. The agreement also stipulates that both cruise lines will market the territory through each companies’ marketing arms worldwide.
Below is video of the singing ceremony.
It is now only a matter of time before we find out how Disney Cruise Line will incorporate Tortola into their itineraries in 2015 and beyond.
UPDATE: January 22, 2014 – Excerpts from an article posted by the Government of the Virgin Islands. Click the following link for the full article Berthing Agreement to Bring 435,000 Passengers to BVI Shore in 2015
- The Territory can expect to see 425,000 visitors a year staring mid-2015 now that the Government has signed berthing agreements with Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Lines.
- Government through the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) signed the 15-year berthing agreement with Disney Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line on January 17.
- The berthing agreement guarantees a total of 350,000 passengers from NCL and 75,000 passengers from DLC per annum, beginning mid-2015. The cruise liners will be charged $15 per passenger for the first five years.
- In addition the Minister Vanterpool said that both cruise liners have agreed to market the British Virgin Islands as a premium destination. Furthermore, DCL will provide its expertise in hospitality training to locals.
- The signing of the berthing agreement with Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line will aid in the negotiation process for acquiring funds to complete the infrastructural development.