Established in 1915, the Port of Palm Beach is a landlord port situated in Riviera Beach, just north of West Palm Beach in Palm Beach County. Over the last fiscal year, the Port’s cargo and cruise business has seen significant growth – all the while maintaining its relatively small footprint of 162 acres. It has seen the addition of a new 52,900-gross-ton, 658-stateroom cruise ship, the Grand Classica; the 276-foot Tropic Freedom joined the Tropical Shipping fleet in serving the Caribbean; rail cars increased by 5% while container tonnage increased by 6%; and both asphalt and diesel gained 20%.
The Port’s largest tenant, Tropical Shipping welcomed the first of its six new vessels custom-built at Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard in China. Tropic Freedom, a Mini Express Class vessel, holds 300 TEUs and serves shallow draft ports in the Caribbean, including Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands. The vessel was christened at the Port of Palm Beach on September 29, 2018, with a large gathering of Tropical employees, family and guests.
On September 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce approved the Port’s application to reorganize Foreign-Trade Zone #135 under the Alternative Site Framework (ASF). ASF is an optional framework for organizing and designating sites that allows zones to use quicker and less complex procedures to obtain FTZ designation for eligible facilities.
Since its establishment on March 16, 1987, FTZ #135 had been operating under the Traditional Site Framework, in which the ordinary timeframe to process a request under the FTZ Board’s regulations is 10 months from the date of docketing. Under the Alternative Site Framework, the ordinary timeframe is shortened to 30 days.
In cruise news, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line chartered the Grand Celebration to assist with restoration of service to communities impacted by the Massachusetts gas incident. The ship traveled to Boston on October 1, 2018 to provide housing for crews working to restore service to thousands of homes. The Grand Celebration is expected to resume normal cruise operations from the Port of Palm Beach in December 2018. In April 2018, Grand Classica joined the BPCL fleet, also sailing to Freeport, Grand Bahama Island from the Palm Beaches. The Grand Classica is currently operating on the Grand Celebration’s schedule throughout the charter period.
On the construction side, the Port is in the process of finalizing a new mini-slip at Berth 17, capable of handling vessels of up to 300 feet in length. In April 2018, the Port began the first phase of its rail intermodal expansion, reconstructing its tracks in order to increase the efficiency of cargo transport and handling. Other projects also in the works include the redevelopment of a waterside cargo terminal to allow for an expansion in refrigerated container areas and the reconstruction of Berth 1.