Port of Spain: cruise business up; systems upgrade completed

2016 February 1: April last year (2015) will be remembered in the history of the Port of Port of Spain for the inaugural visit of the mv Glovis Crystal.  It was the first call by a ship from the Hyundai Glovis Line to Trinidad and Tobago but it was also the Crystal’s maiden voyage.

With onboard capacity for 6,500 vehicles and storage facility at the Port of Port of Spain for 3,300 vehicles, the country’s port authority expects this new business relationship to increase roll-on/roll-off volumes.

Port of Spain continues to experience growth in its cruise business. Although not one of the Caribbean’s leading cruise ship destinations, the Port of Port of Spain has been receiving a fairly significant volume of cruise business. The 2014-15 cruise season (the winter months in the northern hemisphere) brought 10 cruise ship visits with 13,085 visitors to Trinidad. The schedule for the current (2015-16) cruise season has 18 cruise ship calls. A total of 15,696 passengers are expected.

Cruise lines calling at Port of Spain include MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Saga Shipping Company, Hapag Lloyd, Haimark and Swan Hellenic.

The MSC Orchestra, with passenger capacity of 2,550, is the largest ship on the schedule for the current season. Its first visit was on December 17. It is scheduled to make a total of eight calls at Port of Spain. The Asuka II of NYK Cruises will make its inaugural visit to Port of Spain on February 18.


The port did not commission any new equipment or systems in 2015, but it completed upgrading and maintenance which resulted in improved reliability. The hoist and trolley regulators of the Port’s two oldest ship-to-shore cranes were replaced. The project involved engineering design, hardware acquisition, and commissioning. This became necessary because of the degradation of the regulator circuit boards age. This situation significantly increased the risk of failure of all crane components including motor regulators, which could have rendered these key machines inoperable.

A contract was awarded to replace the regulator with digital drives. However, wiring and installation of the drives were done by the port’s crane maintenance department, under the direction of veteran port engineers Sheldon Smith, Darren Shareef and Shazad Ali. With this major upgrade completed, the Port of Port of Spain now has improved crane functions as the microprocessor-based digital drives will provide more effective monitoring and control of the crane motors. The replacement of the outdated electronic system with more robust technology and a new electronic, microprocessor-based system has significantly increased the safety and reliability of the operations. Improved crane safety systems and the new drive system will allow future safety upgrades.

There are other noteworthy benefits of the project. crane diagnostics will become easier since the drive system will issue alarms, warnings and trending information. Troubleshooting time will be reduced as data (voltages, current, speed, etc.) will be stored digitally and will also be available in real time. Remote system monitoring will now be available through wireless connectivity to the drive. Access to both real time and historic data will allow technicians to forecast and avert major problems.


Other significant port maintenance or development projects at the port of Port of Spain during 2015 include:

  1. Construction of a new food court, to be completed in the first quarter 2016
  2. Replacement and installation of new crane rails, completed in April
  3. Surface repairs of the empty container yard, slated for completion in January 2016
  4. Paving of the storage yard at the ferry terminal, completed in October
  5. Surface repairs at the CARICOM wharves, completed in October
  6. Reconstruction of the barrel shop, in progress at year end and slated for completion in March 2016

Reconstruction of the fast ferry guide jetty, completed in October; and

Reconstruction of the conventional cargo guide jetty and loading ramp, completed in April

Plans for 2016 include: dredging of the basin at the Port of Spain ferry terminal and the approach channel; increased focus on customer service delivery and partnerships with all stakeholder groups; re-training and skills upgrade.

The Port of Port of Spain ended the year 2015 a far more reliable and efficient operation. Its efforts to consolidate continue into the year ahead with a significant dredging project and plans to upgrade its human resources and customer services. []