Ground broken for a Miami skyline ‘Crown’

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The first step in adding a visually arresting star to the Miami skyline was taken today when officials for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and PortMiami broke ground for a new RCL cruise terminal, one that promises high function as well as form.

Terminal A – nicknamed the “Crown of Miami” for its appearance when seen from the water – is expected to have a major economic impact on RCL’s home for all of its half-century of history.

“Our public-private partnership will have an estimated economic impact of $500 million and generate more than 4,000 jobs,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “This will make PortMiami Royal Caribbean’s largest cruise port in the U.S., solidifying PortMiami’s status as the Cruise Capital of the World.”

In keeping with the “relentless innovation” that gives RCL both its drive and reputation, the new structure will be “not just another cruise terminal but an iconic state-of-the-art facility,” said Richard D. Fain, RCL chairman and CEO. “Terminal A reinforces our unwavering commitment to our hometown, the city where our company first started nearly 50 years ago.”

The new terminal and adjacent parking structure will cover 170,000 square feet on 10 acres in the northeast section of the port. Used by cargo ships until now, the moorage will be roomy enough for the largest cruise ships in the world, those of Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis class. Two of the giants – the Allure of the Seas and the newly announced Symphony of the Seas, now being built in France – as well as several other RCI ships will homeport at the new facility, which is scheduled to open in October 2018.

In keeping with RCL’s environmental priorities, Terminal A will be certified as a green building by the global Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program.

The design was created by Broadway Malyan, an England-based global architecture firm that won the right in a worldwide competition between five top firms. The terminal complex will be owned, operated and maintained by RCL, which will lease the land at the port.

The county expects the new facility to generate some 1.8 million passengers, or at least 30 percent of the port’s projected passenger traffic. That will double RCL’s current passenger traffic in PortMiami. The port already welcomes some 750,000 Royal Caribbean passengers each year for about 15 percent of its overall passenger traffic.

Today’s groundbreaking comes just as RCL is completing a 20,000-square-foot Innovation Lab next to its corporate headquarters. With unique 3D capabilities, the lab will be a design center for the cruiseline’s industry-leading vessels.