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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Financing phase of San Juan cruise port PPP is completed

Public-Private Partnerships Authority Executive Director Fermín Fontanés Gómez

By The Star Staff

Public-Private Partnerships Authority Executive Director Fermín Fontanés Gómez announced on Wednesday that the Ports Authority and San Juan Cruise Port have completed the financial closing of the public-private partnership (PPP) project for the cruise terminals in San Juan Bay.

“It was a priority that the Ports Authority and San Juan Cruise Port, as contracting parties, be able to complete the phase of compliance with the foregoing conditions,” Fontanés Gómez said in a written statement. “This PPP is a way to meet the needs of port infrastructure, in the hands of the world’s largest independent port operator [and in turn] to achieve the goal of increasing the arrival of cruise ships to the island and to continue promoting the development of the tourism sector and the local economy.”

When both parties complete the process of compliance with the conditions established in the alliance contract, the entry of San Juan Cruise Port as the entity in charge of the PPP project that aims at the repair, design, construction, financing, maintenance and operation of piers 1, 3, 4, 11 to 13 and Pan American I and II will become official. The cruise port PPP agreement is for a term of 30 years and contemplates a private capital investment of over $400 million to meet the infrastructure and modernization needs of the port’s docks.

The selection of San Juan Cruise Port as an operator was announced in August 2022 with the aim of addressing the historical deterioration of the cruise ship docks, optimizing their structural condition and modernizing them to temper them to the demands of the modern cruise industry. The intent of the project is to increase port access in Puerto Rico and strengthen the positioning of the island as a maritime tourist destination in the Caribbean.

Ports Authority Executive Director Joel Pizá Batiz, meanwhile, said “it is a day of great optimism and great expectation for us at the Ports Authority, because the projects that will be underway after the signing of this alliance contract will result in improvements to the infrastructure, proper maintenance and construction of new cruise terminals, putting our ports in San Juan Bay in optimal condition.”

“With this agreement, we will also achieve stability and continuity in the management, as well as the balance in the contracts with the cruise lines that visit us,” Pizá Batiz added. “The Ports Authority team will remain vigilant and diligent in the oversight of this alliance and in this way we will ensure that all agreements are executed effectively and for the benefit of all Puerto Ricans and visitors to the island.”

Federico González Denton, general manager of San Juan Cruise Port, said: “We’re ready to get started. Over the past few months, even as we waited for the financial closing, we have already set up our command center in Old San Juan and begun hiring staff for our operations.”

“Ninety percent of the staff is made up of Puerto Ricans,” he said. “In addition, it is important for us to have been able to bring in some of the senior staff of the Ports Authority’s Maritime Office who used to manage the cruise ship docks. This will allow for a smooth transition as we begin to manage the ports.”

San Juan Cruise Port is a subsidiary of Global Ports Holding Plc (GPH), the world’s largest cruise port operator, and consists of a team of high-caliber local professionals backed by its parent company’s global network. GPH operates 30 ports in 17 countries and annually serves more than 20 million cruise passengers worldwide, including in the Bahamas and Antigua & Barbuda in the Caribbean, and Malaga and Barcelona in Spain.

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