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Norwegian Cruise Line approved to build new terminal at Miami port [Miami Herald :: BC-CRU-NORWEGIAN-MIAMI:MI]

MIAMI - A sleek new terminal proposed by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings at PortMiami has officially gotten the green light to begin construction.

The Miami-based cruise company and Miami-Dade County reached an agreement for the terminal last week, settling on a location east of the existing Terminals B and C. That puts the new Norwegian terminal just west of Terminal A, where Royal Caribbean Cruises is building its new PortMiami terminal, too.

The new Norwegian terminal, in conjunction with the cruise company's current location at Terminals B and C, will give Norwegian the space to berth two 5,000-passenger ships at once. The terminal is slated for completion by early November 2019 - just in time for the arrival of Norwegian's newest ship, Norwegian Encore.

The increased ship capacity will create about 155 new direct, full-time jobs, the county said.

Norwegian also has guaranteed Miami-Dade it will see a minimum of 1.3 million Norwegian passengers passing through annually, according to the agreement. That will generate about $24 million in gross revenues beginning in fiscal year 2018 and increase by 3 percent each consecutive year.

Miami-Dade County will pay $100 million for the project, while Norwegian will cover the design, engineering and other costs for a maximum of $65 million.

The design for the terminal, though, has caused controversy. The cruise company persuaded county officials to kill the original winning bid for the design of the terminal and instead allow Norwegian to choose its own design and construction firms. Norwegian claimed the county was choosing a firm that would be friendlier to the county's bottom line - the winning bid proposed an $81 million design, not $100 million - but at the expense of the aesthetic appeal of the building.

The final design for the building, by Miami-based Bermello Ajamil & Partners, is an all-glass, 166,500-square-foot terminal to be dubbed the "Pearl of Miami." The oblong building will have a connecting parking garage with 1,000 parking spaces.

Norwegian President and CEO Frank Del Rio said via a release that the company is hoping to create a "modern and innovative terminal that will soon welcome guests to a premium experience that begins even before they embark and fully immerse themselves in what it means to cruise with Norwegian."

Once completed, the new Norwegian terminal will be known as Terminal B; the existing Terminals B and C will become Terminal C. Norwegian will still be able to use Terminal C, but as part of the agreement it will give up preferential berthing rights on Saturdays and Sundays.

That change will open the port for additional cruise business at Terminal C. According to the agreement with Norwegian, the county says it intends to pursue amendments to its existing agreements with Geneva-based MSC Cruises and Celebration, Florida-based Disney Cruise Line in the next several months.

Groundbreaking for the new terminal is set for later this month.

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