- What is expected to become the largest cruise terminal in the U.S. broke ground last week. The cruise division of MSC Group began work on its future Port of Miami terminal, with an expected completion in late 2023.
- The $350 million project indicates hope for the cruise industry, which was hit hard by the pandemic, and according to two experts, is a sign that the hospitality sector is coming back to life after two years of dealing with COVID-19 challenges.
- The project will include a four-story, 490,000-square-foot building for accommodating up to 36,000 passengers a day, with berthing space for up to three ships at once.
Fincantieri Infrastructure will build the terminal, designed by Miami-based architecture firm Arquitectonica. The facility will accommodate MSC's largest and most environmentally advanced cruise ships. Most of the deployed vessels will be able to plug into the local power grid at berth — part of Miami's plans to enable shore power connectivity.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the project is part of a larger vision for the city.
"In Miami-Dade County, we are forging our way to the future with investments that will stimulate growth and expanded opportunities for our local economy," she said in MSC's announcement. "As our port continues to grow, the opportunities for our community — in jobs, contracts, and services — can only increase."
Gregory Rumpel, who focuses on the hospitality sector at real estate services firm JLL, lives near the cruise port, and has counted the ships moving through in recent months. They're increasing, he told Construction Dive, and profitability for cruise lines is sure to follow.
As a result of Florida businesses remaining open and Gov. Ron Desantis relaxing COVID-19 regulations and restrictions, tourism flourished in Miami in the last 18 months, according to Rumpel.
"The correlation between cruise business and hospitality is inextricably linked,” said Rumpel, senior managing director of JLL's Hotels & Hospitality Group. "Anything that's a success in the cruise industry is a success in the hospitality industry in Miami."
Room for growth
The dollar value of hotel and recreation construction project starts fell by 44% in 2020, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Those numbers have improved, but business travel remains unlikely to grow until next year, according to Dodge Chief Economist Richard Branch.
Though things have improved in Miami, where Rumpel said there is still plenty of room for business travel growth, hospitality starts across the country should show signs of life as well.
"These sectors will remain under the pandemic cloud for some time as they face the most risk in future waves of the COVID-19 virus," Brand said. "Therefore, hotel and recreation starts should advance this year, but remain below the level of construction seen in 2019."
For instance, the Las Vegas Convention Visitors Authority is seeing that advance on the not-so-distant horizon. In its tourism construction bulletin released Feb. 25, the authority projected $4.5 billion in tourism construction spending by 2024, adding an estimated 7,602 additional hotel rooms and 791,000 square feet of convention space.
In Q4 of 2023, Station Casinos will finish its $750 million Durango project in southwest Las Vegas, adding 211 hotel rooms and 21,000 square feet of convention space, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Additionally, the $1.9 billion MSG Sphere at the Venetian — which just installed support for the highest resolution LED screen in the world — will finish in the second half of 2023 and add 17,500 concert venue seats.