Global leisure travel company Carnival and the US-based Royal Caribbean Cruises have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Saint Lucia to build a new cruise port.

The companies will form a joint venture (JV) that will manage the existing cruise pier and terminal facilities at the Port of Castries.

According to the agreement, all the three partners will collaborate to build, design, fund and operate the new cruise port in Vieux Fort, the southern part of Saint Lucia island. The new port will be capable of managing the newest ships in the cruise industry.

Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Allen Chastanet said that the agreement is ‘historic’.

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Chastanet said: “Saint Lucia has had record-breaking cruise arrivals over the past few years and we thank our partners Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean for their continued confidence in our amazing destination.

“It is essential that we continue to diversify what we have to offer, grow our brand and ensure that different sectors in our island’s economy benefit from the growth in cruise tourism and that Saint Lucians can benefit from the opportunities, which arise from the increased numbers, which means we have to improve our capacity.”

Royal Caribbean president and CEO Michael Bayley said: “The cruise market is the fastest-growing sector of tourism and in the next decade cruising in the Caribbean region is anticipated to increase by 40%.

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“We are excited to partner with the Government of Saint Lucia to ensure that the destination directly benefits from that growth while giving more guests the opportunity to visit this unique gem in the Caribbean.”

The JV will develop cruise infrastructure to serve the latest ships and grow local cruise tourism.

Currently, Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruises represent 75% of all cruise ship deployment to Saint Lucia.

Earlier this month, Carnival started the construction of the first cruise terminal at the Sasebo Port in Japan. The terminal is scheduled to be operational by the middle of 2020.