The Harvest Caye Cruise Port – it’s one of the few mega projects ever staged in Southern Belize – but up until now, it’s been shrouded in mystery and
controversy. And as it enters the final stages of construction, in preparation for a February 2016 opening, the mystery persists. 6 weeks ago, we tried
to dispel all that by asking Norwegian’s Senior Vice President Colin Murphy to give us a tour of the place, but he just ignored us. So today we teamed
up with some of our friends in the conservation community to go see for ourselves what it looks like. Of course, the island is private so we couldn’t
go there, but we went near – near enough to get a clear sense of the scale and size of the project.
Daniel Ortiz reports:
The Harvest Caye Cruise Port - sometimes embattled, sometimes controversial, but now very close to becoming a reality - was bustling with activity today,
as it had been for months now.
On its west-ward side, we found heavy equipment dredging and dumping landfill from the sea unto the island.
A little more south along the West side of the island, we found the first signs of real development: buildings, which may more than likely becoming
offices, vending boots, or lodging quarters.
At the southern end, we found a small entrance, which are told, will be used by the cruise ship passengers to get on the island. A series of piles had
already been driven into the water, moving out to the deeper sections of the channel, to support a mega-dock which will be built later.
Nearby, we found heavy equipment being used to drive new piles into the water.
But, the most stunning of the development we’d seen so far was what is to become the beach area for the guests brought to this island.
Piles were being driven into the earth, most likely to stabilize for the future construction in one corner.
And spanning a few hundred yards to the left, this beach - still in construction - lay sprawling on this eastward side of the island.
We got an opportunity to see for ourselves, how the fill being dredged from out in the lagoon was being pumped on the land, and later used to build more of
In the background, construction supplies, and buildings - probably in their late stages of completion - were visible.
Palm trees were being implanted onto the beach, mostly likely brought in in a similar fashion as these palms on this barge.
Near the end of our tour of the Harvest Caye periphery, we came upon the dredging of the channel which will be made for ships -such as the Norwegian Jewel
- to pull up to the Caye.
This was the source of that hill of landfill we saw earlier.
It is said to be one of the largest - if not the largest - dredging operations in memory.
All of this development had taken place - and was still taking place - in close proximity to the corals and patch reef systems, only a few hundred feet
away out in the water.
So, the conservationists who had been watching closely, remain vigilant, overlooking the development from afar to make sure that no unnecessary damage is
done to these fragile ecosystems.
Keep carefully in mind that when this mega - 100 million dollar facility is
Only a short boat ride - 15 to 20 minutes or so - from Placencia’s mainland.
When the cruise port finishes some time next year, the plan is that Norwegian’s ships will dock exclusively at this facility – which was not what the
Prime Minister had announced would happen.
Of course, there’s still a pending lawsuit before Justice Courtney Abel alleging that the Department of Environment fast-tracked the NCL project by
taking important short cuts to the law.