Turkey’s Global Ports Holding (GPH) has signed a 15-year management agreement with the Cuban company Aries S.A. for the operation of the cruise port in Havana, Cuba.

Havana Cruise port

Under the terms of the Agreement, the Group will from 21st June 2018, use its global expertise and operating model to manage all of the cruise port operations over the life of the Agreement. As consideration, the Group will be paid a management fee that is based on a number of factors including passenger numbers, with growth based incentives. In addition to operating the cruise port operations, the Group will continue to work with our Cuban partners on the design and technical specification of the cruise port investment program, including proposed new terminals. Once these have been completed GPH will take responsibility for the marketing and commercialization of these new facilities.

The Agreement is part of significant investment by Cuba into the port area and the tourism infrastructure in Havana. The port currently has capacity of two berths and in 2017 welcomed c328,000 cruise passengers, a growth rate of 156% compared to 2016, with over 500,000 cruise passengers forecast for 2018. As part of Cuba’s significant investment program into the port and surrounding area the number of berths will increase to six by 2024, significantly increasing the passenger capacity of the Havana port.

Cuba, located in the northern Caribbean, is the largest island in the Caribbean. Havana, the capital city of Cuba, is its major port and commercial centre and offers visitors a truly unique experience. The port itself is situated at the heart of Havana and only a 30-minute drive from Jose Marti International Airport, making it an ideal home porting destination.

Global Ports Holding, Chairman and Co-Founder Mehmet Kutman said, “I am very happy that we have signed an agreement for Havana Cruise Port, the first step in the Group’s growth strategy for the Americas. This spectacular city and country is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, with visitors attracted by world famous architecture, a vibrant music scene and the famous local hospitality. We very much look forward to working with our Cuban partners to deliver a fantastic cruise port experience.”

Global Ports Holding, CEO Emre Sayin said, “We are delighted to have been awarded the management contract for the Havana cruise port and look forward to playing our role in developing the cruise port and the wider visitor experience in Havana, as well as Cuba more broadly.

This represents our first Agreement in the Caribbean, in line with our strategy of expansion into the Americas cruise port market and therefore marks an important step in the development of Global Ports Holding. The GPH team looks forward to working with our local partners and local staff to drive continued growth in cruise passenger volumes at Havana Port and deliver both world class cruise port facilities and a great cruise experience for all passengers visiting Havana.”

Caribbean cruise market

The Caribbean is the largest cruise market in the world, with c9.6m passengers enjoying a cruise in the Caribbean in 2017, representing a global market share of c35%. While the Caribbean market is by far the largest cruise market in the world, it has continued to grow strongly in recent years, with passenger volumes rising at CAGR of 4.5% since 2012.

Industry forecasts indicate that growth is expected to continue over the medium term. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), is currently forecasting capacity in the Caribbean to grow at a CAGR of over 6% out to 2020, which is above the long term CAGR of 5.4% that has been experienced globally since 2001.