New Cruise Ship Port Touted for Brooklyn, N.Y.

By this time next year, cruise ships from around the world will begin arriving at a gleaming new terminal planned for the Brooklyn waterfront, city officials said.

The city's strategy to keep cruise tourism from departing to other ports is anchored to a new terminal being developed at Pier 12 in Red Hook, said Economic Development Corp. Vice President Kate Ascher.

New York's cruise industry now faces stiff competition from ports in New Jersey, Boston and Maryland. The departure of Royal Caribbean International to Bayonne, N.J., last December caused a sudden dip of about 60,000 cruise tourists who had been debarking on Manhattan's West Side, Ascher testified.

"Our plan is to maintain current volumes in Manhattan while directing future growth to the new Brooklyn facility," Ascher said at a City Council hearing yesterday.

The cruise ship terminal in Red Hook will be completed first because that will allow the antiquated Manhattan cruise terminal to be rehabilitated and expanded, she said.

In June, the city signed agreements with Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Lines, ensuring that the cruise giants will pay the city $200 million in port charges and bring more than 12 million passengers to New York ports through 2017.

In exchange, the city will spend $150 million on the new Brooklyn cruise port and renovations to the Manhattan terminal. The moves were made after the city was roundly criticized after Royal Caribbean abandoned Manhattan for New Jersey.

The completion date for the Brooklyn terminal depends upon the Port Authority's signing over a lease for Piers 11 and 12 to the city next month.

Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn Heights) criticized the Port Authority for taking more than six months to hand over the piers.

"These are city-owned piers, and we need to go hat in hand to beg them back?" Yassky said. "The Port Authority shouldn't be slowing down an important project like this."

There also was concern at the hearing that the cruise industry doesn't push out the Brooklyn container port company American Stevedoring.

Ascher said that the city will look to secure nearby Pier 10 by March 2007 if it is needed to expand the Brooklyn cruise port -- a pier that is used for some of the shipping operations of American Stevedoring.

"We can't let well-paying blue-collar jobs leave Red Hook without a plan to keep them in Brooklyn," Yassky said.