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British Virgin Islands

New cruise pier for BVI beset by delays

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The continuing growth in passenger numbers has led inevitably to ever-larger cruise ships, with some vessels now capable of carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew.

Of course, in order to remain an attractive destination, some ports have also had to develop their facilities to accommodate these larger vessels. A case in point is the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which is embarking on an ambitious cruise pier expansion project.

Originally due to be ready by summer 2015 – after first breaking ground in March 2014 – it has now been rescheduled for completion by the end of this year as a result of construction delays. Further delays were announced in January when the BVI Ports Authority wrote to the contractor, IDL Projects and Meridian Construction Joint Venture Company Ltd, to say it had failed to comply with the agreed deadline of the contract. The BVI Ports Authority could claim delay damages of up to 0.1 per cent.

Expansion

The project involves an expansion of the existing Road Town pier along with a five acre landside development that will include commercial, retail and entertainment zones as well as plenty of green space. The first vessels are expected to dock by 1 March 2015.

In Phase 1 the pier will be lengthened from 230 to 398 meters and widened from 9.9 to 18.3 meters. Additional mooring dolphins will be installed on both sides of the pier, while planned expansion on the landside includes the Terminal Building and Merchant’s Walk Buildings 1 and 2.

Phase 2 will involve a more extensive landside development under the banner of ‘Tortola Pier Park: the Gateway to Your Getaway’. This will consist of more than 20 new buildings in British colonial style. In addition to the Royal Customs House, the Black Swan Tavern and The Exchange, there will be retail village buildings, a market, a chapel with a garden, a boat museum, a pool bar, merchant kiosks, boardwalks (east and west), a cricket lawn, a waterfront swimming pool, a maintenance area and a trolley line.

According to BVI Ports Authority data, the BVI is expecting to welcome 297 cruise ships between October 2014 and April 2015, bringing in more than 610,000 passengers. Of that total, Road Town will receive 169 calls and 450,000 passengers.