Latest — 23 February 2019 — by Courtney Menzies
Groundbreaking ceremony held for Stake Bank cruise ship docking facility

STAKE BANK, Belize District, Wed. Feb. 20, 2019– History was made today as Stake Bank Enterprise Limited (SBEL) held its groundbreaking ceremony for the first ever cruise ship docking facility for Belize City. This highly talked-about cruise port will be only a short 10-minute boat ride from Belize City.

The state-of-the-art docking facility at SBEL will be able to accommodate four of the world’s largest cruise ships simultaneously. The actual island will facilitate the tourists from those ships with tours, shopping, and cultural attractions. There will also be beaches and a Mayan-themed water park.

The project is being developed by the Feinstein Group of Companies, chaired by Michael Feinstein, a Belizean. According to him, this project will cost US$67 million for works on the island, and US$82 million by the time the entire project is complete.

Feinstein said there will be a causeway to North Drowned Cayes, which is only about 2 miles away from Belize City. North Drowned Cayes will have a terminal, with parking for 200 buses. Feinstein said the project has full economic clearance, and while there are still some technicalities to be worked out, the Stake Bank project is free to move forward.

The keynote speaker for the ceremony, Attorney General, Michael Peyrefitte, told the audience that it was “time for Belizeans to stop thinking small,” and to “accept that we have the ability to do anything on a world-class level.” He said that this is just the beginning for Stake Bank.

Mike McFadden, president of MAC Maritime Inc., a consultant for this project, explained that this is the opportune time for Belize and cruise tourism. According to him, the cruise industry is growing, with 118 new cruise ships expected to enter service between 2018 and 2027.

McFadden said that 39% of global cruise business in the Caribbean will come from those 118 new ships, along with the 341 ships currently in service.

McFadden mentioned that while in Florida about 3 weeks ago, he brought up the Stake Bank project to some cruise executives, who were all very excited about it. He said they all agreed that the western Caribbean needs a more dedicated cruise port for the latest generation of cruise ships.

We also spoke to John Allyn, vice president for EDSA Inc., a company that specializes in designing resorts. His vision for Stake Bank, according to him, is to create an experience that’s unique.

Allyn said he has done projects in countries in Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, but he has never come across a country like Belize. Allyn said that Belize has “potential for everything.” He said that Belize offers a rich cultural experience, rich history dating back to the Mayans, and natural beauty.

Allyn said he wants Stake Bank to be sort of a gateway to preview all that Belize has to offer. He wants it to be a “private, pristine, tranquil environment” that allows guests to get off the ship and be able to do things like snorkeling, enjoying the water park, or simply relaxing. As previously mentioned, tourists will have the opportunity to shop and dine as well, and the island is only minutes away from the mainland.

Stake Bank has 25 acres of land and it is estimated that the project will be completed within a little less than 2 years.

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Deshawn Swasey

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