Sunday, May 29, 2016

Norwegian company looks at running ferry from Key West to Cuba

Norwegian company looks at running ferry from Key West to Cuba
gfilosa@keynoter.comMay 28, 2016

Representatives of one of Norway's largest ferry operators met this week
with the city of Key West's port director, as city leaders say they
won't give up on the idea of landing a Key West-to-Cuba ferry.

The meeting between Norled executives and Port Director Doug Bradshaw on
Thursday was a courtesy meeting requested by the Norwegians, according
to city spokeswoman Alyson Crean.

But it's one more sign that Key West is doing what it can to once again
have a ferry service to Cuba, which sits nearly 100 nautical miles away.
Ferries between the two nations stopped when the countries broke off
diplomatic relations half a century ago. But relations were renewed in
late 2014.

Norled is "considering the startup of a regular 'day cruise service'
between Key West and a foreign destination, Ok-Hini Ronning wrote in a
company e-mail to the city obtained by the Keynoter. The company would
use a catamaran built to hold 300 passengers, the e-mail stated.

Crean confirmed the meeting took place but Norled has competition.

"Several companies are interested in doing a ferry service," said Mayor
Craig Cates. "I know there's three. I met with two six to eight months ago."

The city can eventually put out a request for proposals to find a
company to run the ferry service, Cates said. But first, the city needs
assurance from the federal government it would staff a new customs
office here.

Last November, the Key West City Commission ordered staff to figure out
if the existing ferry terminal, 100 Grinnell St., could be turned into a
customs facility. Such a project is estimated to cost $2 million.

"Some companies have said, 'We'll pay $2 million if you give us a
lease,' " Cates said.

Commissioner Richard Payne has pushed the Truman Waterfront as the best
location for a Cuba ferry, but the Navy closed the harbor to the public
in 2013 citing the need for military training as part of its national
security mission.

Cates said the Navy hasn't responded to requests by city leaders to sit
down and discuss reopening the harbor.

Source: Norwegian company looks at running ferry from Key West to Cuba |
News | KeysNet -

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