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Norwegian to increase ship visits to Belize

This month Norwegian Cruise Line made the announcement that they had purchased an area of approximately 75 acres of land in Southern Belize with the intention to develop this into an eco-friendly cruise destination. Norwegian Cruise Line will spend around $50 million on this ambitious project which has already created some controversy with its proposed plans.

At present, the land is named Harvest Caye and comprises two islands. These two islands had previously received planning permission for the development of an airstrip.

NCL already has a large number of exciting and popular Western Caribbean itineraries and a number of ships (including the Norwegian Dawn pictured below) operating in this area.

Norwegian Dawn

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Sheehan states that ‘once the new destination is complete [they will be able to] bring four times as many guests to Belize than we do today’.

At present passengers arrive at Belize City port (pictured below) by tender boats.

Belize City Port

The plan for the development of the 75 acres of land is still mostly under wraps, but it has been confirmed that Norwegian Cruise Line will turn this into a world-class cruise port which will consist of two locations.

One of which will be an island destination with docking or tendering facilities and the other will be a connection to the mainland to allow passengers to embark upon tours of this area.

It is expected that there will be a floating pier, an island village, a state of the art marina, a transportation centre from which tours will depart to the mainland of Belize and a sheltered lagoon where passengers will be able to take part in various water sports or simply relax on the beach.

The cruise line have stated that this is to be an eco-friendly destination and their development plans will depend on using a design approach that will be determined by the local environment. They aim to ensure that the fragile and unique area will be protected from any potential damage or change.

Belize is a destination which currently has high environmental standards and the government of Belize have signed a memorandum with Norwegian Cruise Line agreeing that Norwegian will work to their strict environmental standards, create a number of jobs for the people of Belize and create a significant amount of economic growth.

NCL are planning to employ mainly Belizeans in the construction and operation of the project and it is anticipated that this project will create around 1,000 jobs for the locals of Belize and will also help with decentralising cruise tourism in Belize.

This will reduce the number of passengers arriving into the one cruise port which exists there are present which will mean the area is less crowded with cruise tourists. This will surely make visiting Belize a more pleasant experience for cruise passengers and land based tourists too.

So, what do you think of the plans to create a new cruise port in Belize?

Thanks Emma

7 Replies to “Norwegian to increase ship visits to Belize”

Mary Toy
August 29, 2013
Please don't patronize this destination. It is too fragile for mass cruise tourism. There are other places to visit - please leave this one alone.
Sue Ridge
August 29, 2013
Yes, this has caused controversy - not least of which because the Government and NCL have failed to consult with local people. The Belize National Sustainable Tourism Masterplan specifically states that the only acceptable form of cruise tourism in southern Belize is pocket cruise ships of less than 300 passengers. Strangely, the Government has decided that the reasons for drawing this conclusion no longer apply. The previous Environmental Impact Assessment was for a 760 person hotel - that's really not the same thing as a cruise ship port and private island for 4000+ people, is it? There is widespread opposition to this 'development' - please visit the "Placencia Cruise" facebook page for the other side of the story.
Laura Viola
August 29, 2013
The controversy if anyone cares to inquire, is that the NCL project was approved by government officials largely behind closed doors, against their own master tourism plan which said no large cruise ships in that area, and against the wishes of major tourism stakeholders. And forget about taking a vote or even consulting any of the residents in the area to be impacted. Belizeans are confused by the, many believe exaggerated, promise of jobs, because of course they want better opportunities for themselves and their families. Others who have direct experience with the effect cruise lines have had the world over can’t believe NCL’s characterization of their project as low-impact, eco-friendly or basically don’t trust any of the hype, press releases, shameless Greenwwash". There is heavy opposition growing from all walks of life. For more information, google “facebook placencia cruise” and “stop Norwegian cruise lines in southern belize” to sign and then please SHARE the petition to join us to save this unique place from irreversable cruizification!
August 29, 2013
The majority of people and non-governmental organizations within Belize are fighting very hard to keep this travesty from destroying a fragile eco-system that up 'til now the government of Belize has touted as an eco-friendly tourism destination. There is a very healthy overnight tourism sector in southern Belize that will be virtually destroyed by overuse of the resources in the area, just like they have overused the resources near Belize City and now want to move on and destroy another area. Please go to the new website to find out more info and please sign the petition on the take action link.
Patricia Celenza
August 29, 2013
Opposition to this project is widespread in southern Belize for numerous reasons--destruction of a pristine caye environment for a Disney-like development, absolutely no environmental studies done to show impacts on not only this caye, but the surrounding communities, creating "around 1,000 jobs for the locals" can mean any number, doesn't it? Absolutely no transparency in this NCL deal--how would your community like it if this project suddenly was announced without one single public consultation? Be reminded that three years ago, Government of Belize reassured its people that there would be NO MASS TOURISM IN SOUTHERN BELIZE.
Jane Dunham
August 29, 2013
Southern Belize is an unspoiled fragile area that is no place for cruise ships of 4,000 people. Harvest Caye is surrounded bt fragile coral as well as mangroves that are crucial to the survival of the manatees of Belize. There is no sewage system on shore. There may be one or two bathrooms at Mayan sites. Please do not take part in the destruction of a lovely piece of this planet.
Barbara Bartel
August 29, 2013
There is nearly universal objection to this plan by the people who live in southern Belize. Please do not book cruise ship passages that include southern Belize. If you are interested in visiting Belize, please plan your trip to include overnight tourism. Belize is an amazing destination. The multi-cultural charm and widely diverse eco-systems that exist in Belize, will be destroyed by even a small influx of cruise ship travelers. Once it's gone, it won't be coming back. Help protect Belize from the fate of so many other beautiful places. Please speak out against NCL plans to develop Harvest Caye, in southern Belize.

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