Cruise ship to dock in Red Hook Saturday

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A Red Hook cruise ship terminal will not be completed for months, but on Saturday morning, a transatlantic luxury liner will dock, or at least make a pit stop, at Pier 12 off Pioneer Street.

The P & O cruise line’s Oriana, a British luxury liner that includes 10 bars, four restaurants, three outdoor pools and a casino, will be arriving from London and escorted by fireboats. It is expected at the pier between 7 am and 7:30 am on Sept. 24.

An invitation sent out this week by the city’s Economic Development Corporation encouraged attendees to arrive at the makeshift terminal at 8 am for welcoming remarks by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Saturday’s surprise docking is likely intended to provide a public relations boost to the mayor’s efforts to build a $45 million cruise ship terminal at Pier 12, which is expected to host Carnival and Norwegian cruise line ships starting this April. The mayor, who faces former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer in November’s general election, has been pushing to phase out shipping on the Red Hook piers and replace it with the cruise industry and other commercial ventures.

The new terminal, which will largely handle the overflow and relocation of cruise ships while a $150 million Manhattan berth is being repaired and renovated, is part of an exclusive agreement between the city and the two cruise lines.

Both Norwegian and Carnival have promised to use New York City ports exclusively and pay raised tariff fees through 2017 that would supply $200 million to the city, in exchange for the 10-year West Side renovation project in Manhattan. Last year, the city lost Royal Caribbean to a port just across the harbor from the Red Hook piers, in Bayonne, N.J.

Elected officials, the city, and business groups have promoted the Red Hook deal touting the figure of 600 new jobs being brought to Brooklyn by the cruise industry.

The number was obtained using the Queen Mary II cruise liner, at 1,132 feet the largest in the world, as a model for the size of ship and consequent crew, that would be docking at Pier 12.

Passengers aboard the 853-foot Oriana will not necessarily be disembarking. The EDC would not answer questions about the ship’s arrival.

The arrival of the industry brings with it the fear of existing maritime businesses being supplanted by the luxury liners.

Earlier this year, the city forced American Stevedoring Inc. (ASI), a cargo shipping company, off Pier 11, which is being eyed as a potential accessway to the new terminal. But this summer, the same pier was advertised as vacant, and available for interested parties.

With ASI consolidated onto Piers 8-10, the company has said any less would render its Brooklyn operations useless. But the EDC stated at the October hearing its hopes down the line to “morph” Piers 10 and 11, into use exclusively for cruise ships.

Whether that would happen, said EDC Vice President Kate Ascher to council members, depends on the success of the cruise industry at Pier 12.

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