Port of Seattle shelves cruise terminal development amid COVID-19 uncertainties
The Port of Seattle has delayed the development of the proposed Terminal 46 cruise terminal as it needs to investigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the market before proceeding.
The cruise industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic especially on the back of the suspension of global sailings that have quashed cruise liners’ earnings.
Global liners have predominantly had to postpone their sailings until June awaiting clearance from health and government authorities to continue cruising.
However, uncertainty still prevails when it comes to the overall market sentiment and return of confidence on the part of customers and their willingness to cruise again.
One thing is certain, health and safety practices on board cruise ships would have to be bolstered in order to provide reassurance to future passengers.
Port of Seattle commissioners have directed staff to present an evaluation of the Alaska homeport cruise industry and recommendations concerning the resumption of the project as part of the upcoming capital budget process.
The report with the recommendations on the next steps are expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The analysis will consider impacts of COVID-19 on the industry’s 2020 cruise season, health and safety regulatory requirements, industry and market forecasts, and economic benefit.
“The last twenty years proved the demand for the Alaska cruise market, which we believe is resilient and will return,” said Executive Director Steve Metruck.
“With global cruising on pause right now, it’s appropriate that we consider coming back to this project in the future when we have a clearer picture of the market.”
The terminal development was proposed with the aim of bolstering the port’s capacity to accommodate the growing cruise demand for Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and West Coast cruises. The port already has three berths for cruises at its two existing terminals.
The decision on the cruise terminal comes as the port reviews which projects to move ahead in light of the current economic situation caused by the pandemic.
In that light, around 20 construction projects would be accelerated as a boost to construction jobs and the local COVID-19 economic recovery.
The port’s 2020 operating budget is $470 million and 2020 capital budget is $640 million.