The territory has already heard that cruise ship visits are down this year.

Now, projections for the coming 2012-2013 season show fewer visits as well, especially from major lines, Communications and Works Minister Mark Vanterpool said Tuesday evening.

But, the minister told about 100 taxi and livery operators at the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park, “All hope is not lost.”

“We are in urgent discussions with them,” he said.

Mr. Vanterpool said government has “moved beyond” a previous memorandum of understanding with Disney. Instead, government is negotiating with a group of three cruise lines.

The minister said major lines want to see a larger cruise ship pier in the Virgin Islands to accommodate larger luxury ships.

He added that the ministry is considering plans for a cruise ship pier expansion, which include widening the dock and extending it about 200 feet. Without a plan chosen, he said, he couldn’t say the cost of the project, but estimated it to be somewhere between $12 million and $15 million, which would include some dredging in Road Harbour.

In projections for the 2012-2013 season, the total number of ships scheduled to stop in VI ports is only down by a few, Mr. Vanterpool said, but some major lines will significantly reduce their presence here.

Costa will drop from 26 to 21 stops; Oceania from 16 to five; Fred Olsen from 10 to four; Norwegian from 20 to two; and Princess from 12 to zero.

But, Mr. Vanterpool added, other companies will increase the stops they make here if the territory expands its pier.


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