Cruise ships due at Pier 7 or 12

The Brooklyn Paper
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Just days before the mammoth Queen Mary 2’s historic passage into New York Harbor last week, the city announced a major deal to keep the world’s largest cruise lines docking here.

At the heart of the agreement is a plan to construct a pier on Brooklyn’s waterfront — at either Pier 7, just south of Atlantic Avenue, or Pier 12, on the Red Hook waterfront near Pioneer Street.

Officials of both Carnival and Norwegian cruise lines agreed to pay at least $200 million in port charges through 2017, and the city agreed to kick in the initial $150 million, to cover the cost of construction and renovations.

With the Manhattan terminal operating at capacity, and the cruise line industry threatening to flee to New Jersey, the new plan calls for the creation of four modern berths over the next four years with the possibility of further expansion in 10 years.

“The Brooklyn waterfront will soon become a destination for the finest cruise ships in the world,” said Carnival Vice-Chairman Howard Frank at a press conference to announce the deal.

Local elected officials also praised the agreement, noting the potential for more jobs and the growth of tourism in the borough.

“Even more national and international visitors will have the chance to experience our attractions, culture, food and historic neighborhoods, which will put dollars in the pockets of Brooklyn businesses, which will help create more jobs,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6, said the board was “thrilled” about the announcement.

“We have been enthusiastically working with the [city Economic Development Corporation] for the past few months trying to help plan for such a facility,” said Hammerman.

The new terminals will be able to accommodate longer ships, including the Cunard Lines’ 1,132-foot-long, 21-story-tall QM2, the largest cruise ship in the world.

Last week’s announcement came as the community anxiously awaits the results of a study by consultants Hamilton, Rabinowitz & Alschuler (HR&A), hired by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and EDC, to determine the best uses for Piers 6-12.

But the city and the cruise lines are still trying to hash out where the Brooklyn terminal will go.

Carnival has had its eye on Pier 7 for the past several years.

But EDC officials recently said that pier would pose navigational problems and are pushing for Pier 12 instead.

“Pier 12 seems to be the better choice but a final decision has not been made,” said Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the EDC.

Despite the city’s findings, the cruise ship industry may still be angling for the pier to the north.

“Our findings are different than their findings, but that’s why you sit down and discuss them,” said Gary Lewi, a spokesman for the New York Cruise Alliance.

“The alternative pier was presented rather late in the game. But the object is to make Brooklyn work and that is our intent,” added Lewi.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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