The Royal Dock
While Cruise Terminal in Coxen Hole bogs down in delays, the island is looking at a 10-fold cruise traffic increase over the next 6-10 years.

October 1st, 2007
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private]

Phase I of the Coxen Hole Cruise Ship Terminal. (Images curtesy of HTH Architects and Roatan Cruise Ship Terminal)

Phase I of the Coxen Hole Cruise Ship Terminal. (Images curtesy of HTH Architects and Roatan Cruise Ship Terminal)

With Roatan due to turn into a major cruise ship destination, two cruise ship terminals with three to five docks are in preparation to begin construction. While Carnival is doing depth studies for two dock locations in Dixon Cove, Royal Caribbean’s dock concession in Coxen Hole has hit some major delays. Royal Caribbean was promised a 30-year terminal contract with all necessary environmental permits, but what they have gotten is a headache of fighting with government regulations.

After breaking ground in December 2006, the work hit a couple of major speed bumps. First, between February 26 and March 9, Ministry of Mining held up work on the dock when Diamond Rock, Roatan’s only rock, boulder supplier and subcontractor on the dock project, was shut down because the company never had a proper mining permit. In the meantime, no filling in could be done on the site. While mining permits were eventually issued, another even longer delay began in July when Ministry of the Environment (SERNA) permit for filling in the terminal’s western portion, around 40% of the site, didn’t materialize.

The existence of coral on the fill-in site caused a halt to the fill-in process. The only way to proceed was to make changes to Honduras’ environmental laws. These changes are still in progress as the president had to approve them and congress had to pass and ratify the law before publishing it in La Gazeta. Finally SERNA has to OK it. “We are in a holding pattern,” said Ernan Bartez, General Manager of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Terminal, who believes that the good will on the side of the government will make things happen in the end.

The transplant of the 4,000 sq meters of coral will cost between $300 and $500 thousand. 4,300 metric tons of rock and coral is expected to be moved during the two-month work schedule. NOVA Southeastern University will supervise the replanting and monitoring of coral. Only then the work on the refilling of the cruise ship terminal’s west side can begin.

Already the Coxen Hole cruise ship terminal project is facing a three-and-a-half month delay, with the project’s Phase I termination date moved from March 2008 to June 2008. It is likely to be delayed much further.

The stakes are high. According to Bartez, Roatan should prepare for an increase of cruise ship passengers from what is today 800 passengers a day to 6,000 and eventually 10,000, in as few as six years.

Responsible for Coxen Hole terminal construction is Coastal Systems International (CSI), a general contractor based in the Dominican Republic with experience with similar projects in Florida, US Virgin Islands and Guatemala. Julio Bonnelly, CSI’s Roatan Project Manager, has experience at both US Virgin Islands and Guatemala cruise ship terminal construction.

HTH Architects from USA are designing the Phase I of three buildings that will house stores and offices. Phase II will include four other buildings with restaurants, condominiums and more retail space. [/private]

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