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BAYONNE, NJ-Royal Caribbean Cruises, which operates a total of 27 vessels out of its Miami home base, is in talks with the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority to base two of those vessels at a new terminal that would be created on a portion of the former Military Ocean Terminal here. The authority owns and is redeveloping the sprawling 430-acre site, a military supply depot that the federal government closed down almost five years ago during a round of base closings.

The authority’s commissioners voted at the end of last week to begin negotiations with Royal Caribbean which, according to a published report, itself initiated the discussions. According to company officials, the MOT location became an alternative because of diminished space for docking on Manhattan’s West Side.

According to sources, the plan, if an agreement can be reached, calls for Royal Caribbean to temporarily occupy an existing 120,000-sf warehouse facility as its terminal, as well as an adjacent 1,000 ft of bulkheading. The long-term plan calls for construction of a new terminal facility and the usage of up to 2,500 ft of bulkhead for docking purposes.

Company officials have declined to say how much the project–both the temporary solution and the long-term development–will cost. Early estimates by local officials put the figure for bulkhead improvements alone in the $20 million range. If all goes according to plan, Royal Caribbean officials hope to have the new location up and running by late next spring.

The two ships that would be based here are the Voyager of the Seas and the Nordic Empress, according to company officials. The former, one of the world’s largest cruise ships with a capacity for more than 3,100 people, currently operates out of Miami. The latter, which holds 1,500 people, is now based across the river in Manhattan.

The master plan for the MOT site, which was mapped out just over a year ago, calls for a mix of high-rise residential facilities, office space, and a variety of other commercial uses, including waterfront-related activities. Officials decline to provide details of the negotiations for Royal Caribbean’s operation, although observers speculate that the financial terms will focus on a ground lease, a division of on-site revenues, including parking fees, as well as a per-passenger terminal charge.

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