Miami-Dade County is currently looking to borrow from Wall Street in order to fund its cruise ship terminal projects at PortMiami Florida.
On Monday, August 31, the county commission authorized the issuance of up to US$500 million in special obligation bonds, US$335 million designated for Miami Port. The approval comes as cruising in the United States remains banned until at least October 1, and cruise lines have said they will not begin sailings until October 31.
According to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami-Dade County was committed to growing the business at PortMiami.
“These bonds are critical to maintaining the progress at our Port. Because of its tremendous success, PortMiami is recognized as the Cruise Capital of the World and a Cargo Global Gateway. We are not stopping now!”
The rest of the money will go toward projects related to the general fund of the county, including a fingerprint ID system and a bike path.
Before the pandemic paralyzed the industry, the county agreed to pay US$700 million toward the projects - 5 new cruise terminals and 2 company headquarters. The companies - Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Virgin Voyages - agreed to repay the county US$5.8 billion over the next 20-62 years.
Miami-Dade County and the cruise companies exchanged letters citing unforeseen circumstances, or force majeure, in order to get relief from the payment deadlines after United States health authorities canceled cruises in mid-March 2020. No agreement has been announced.
Building on the NCL-Norwegian Cruise Line ship terminal finished earlier in 2020 a few months behind schedule. According to Port director Juan Kuryla, the Virgin cruise ship terminal will remain on its planned timeline to finish prior to the arrival of the company’s 2nd vessel in November 2021. Timelines for the other projects are being renegotiated.
The biggest chunk of the US$335 million in bonds will go toward building of Virgin’s terminal - US$130 million.