Miami-Dade County Extends Berthing Agreement with Disney Cruise Line Through 2018 (Option for 2019)

On Tuesday December 1, 2015 the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a two-year terminal berthing agreement extension with Disney Cruise Line through 2018 with an option, similar to the original berthing agreement from 2012, to extended this agreement for an extra year. If Disney Cruise Line chooses to pick up the option this would mean they will use PortMiami as a home port through the fall of 2019. I say the fall simply because contracts terms follow Miami-Dade county’s fiscal year which begins October 1 and ends September 30. However, based on historical trends the classic ships tend to arrive in PortMiami in the fall and sail through the following spring before heading off to Europe and Alaska.

This new agreement still requires Disney Cruise Line to guarantee a minimum annual number of passengers movements no less than 100,000 each fiscal year for the term of the contract. Just to clear things up, these berthing agreements define a passenger movement as a cruise ship passenger either embarking or disembarking from a cruise ship. This means that if you sailing on a cruise that the port counts you when you get on the ship and when you disembark at the end of your cruise. This is a small detail, but it becomes important when you try to estimate the number of sailings required to meet the contractual minimum bases on ship passenger capacity.

According to the documents filed by the county, Disney Cruise Line has exceeded passenger minimum guaranteed each year with sailings aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. Passenger movements from Disney Cruise Line have increased each fiscal year at PortMiami. In FY 2013 Disney Cruise Line had 147,700 passengers, 186,000 passengers during FY 2014 and 222,300 passengers in FY 2015.

Miami-Dade expects Disney Cruise Line to generate about 430,000 passengers and approximately $7.8 million during the initial term of the contract in FY 2017 and FY 2018. In the event DCL chooses to extend for the extra year (2019), Miami-Dade could see an additional revenue of $4.1 million.

The agreement continues to allow Disney Cruise Line to use Terminal F, which has been the terminal used to date for the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. PortMiami does have the right to schedule DCL at another terminal in the event there is a scheduling conflict with another cruise line with preferential berthing rights. I just so happens the county voted to extend MSC’s berthing agreement through 2027 during the same meeting. MSC agreement gives them preferred berthing year round on Saturdays at Terminal F. All this really means is that Disney would need to go to another terminal if   they choose to have a Saturday departure when there is an MSC ship with a Saturday departure. Additionally, the MSC agreement includes language for $25 million worth of upgrades to Terminal F by December 1, 2017 to accommodate the MSC Seaside. The terminal footprint will increase to accommodate a new and expanded bag drop-off and holding area, passenger entry with security check, a new passenger ticking and check-in area, expanded waiting area with more seating capacity. Notable changes to help with debarkation will include and expansion of the baggage area and ground transportation improvements on the street side of Terminal F.

The berthing agreement stipulates the Port fees paid by Disney to the County shall continue to increase by 3% annually. The passenger wharfage rate chargeable to Disney during FY 2016-17 shall be $11.68 per passenger embark plus $11.68 per passenger debark ($23.36 per passenger). The dockage rate chargeable by the County to Disney in FY 2016-17 shall be $0.36 per gross registered ton. Wharfage and dockage fees shall increase annually through the term by 3%, which is consistent with other County agreements with cruise lines. A shortfall payment would be due to Miami-Dade county if Disney did not meet its annual guarantee of 100,000 passenger movements.

The terminal berthing agreement also modifies the language of Disney parking incentive at the port. The port will pay Disney a percentage of the parking revenue for DCL’s multi-day cruise passengers. For example, If Disney’s multi-day cruise passengers are 10% of PortMiami’s total multi-day cruise passenger embarkations then Disney will receive 10% of parking revenues collected by the port during the fiscal year.

Presently, guests can book sailings aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder through Spring 2017. The latest berthing agreement between Miami-Dade County and Disney Cruise Line leads me to believe one thing. Disney Cruise Line will continue to deploy a ship or ships to Port Miami as it has done to date through at least September 2018.

For anyone interested here is the full memorandum about the berthing agreement by Miami-Dade county.

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