Trujillo, Honduras' Banana Coast

| 08.09.11

The latest historic Caribbean port to receive an extensive cruise line upgrade is Trujillo, Honduras.

This jaguar is one of the exotic animals to be put on display in the Banana Coast port facility. 

Even though we tend to concentrate on ship amenities here in CruiseMates, the cruise lines know that most customers choose a cruise based on itinerary. Pre-2000, cruising was still a new experience for most people, so most lines offered the choice of a simple Eastern or Western Caribbean itinerary where the ports of call rarely varied. The Eastern itinerary included St. Thomas and St Martin, along with a private island or a stop in Nassau, Bahamas. The Western itinerary generally included Cozumel, Jamaica and Grand Cayman.

As time went on, the number of repeat cruisers increased, and they wanted to visit new places; and as more ships were built, the standard ports started getting surprisingly crowded. What's more, the newer ships were bigger and required longer and deeper docking facilities. The cruise lines knew they needed to offer different destinations with new experiences, but other than the Southern Caribbean -- which requires starting in San Juan or planning a 10-day cruise instead of a seven-day itinerary -- there just were not that many options unless the cruise lines created them.

In the last decade, Carnival and Royal Caribbean spent millions of dollars on islands like Grand Turk to install docks, shopping centers, swimming facilities and duty-free shops. The last port to receive a massive development investment was historic Falmouth, Jamaica, which is getting extra-large docking facilities capable of handling the Oasis and Allure of the Seas megaships.

The same company that designed those facilities, OBM Imternational, is also creatingf the new design for the Banana Coast. The financing is coming from an agreement between the cruise lines and the local government and merchants of Trujillo.

The Newest Port Development Project

Are you ready to "Go Bananas?" Chances are you will soon be hearing this phrase a lot more on Western Caribbean cruises. Trujillo, Honduras, a town of 30,000 on Honduras' north coast that claims to be the "Banana Coast" capital, will soon offer cruise visitors "all things bananas" as well as many features of natural beauty including waterfalls, mountain streams, a tropical rainforest and even pink flamingoes.

Construction on the 10-acre beachfront site began in earnest this week (August 2011). A seawall is being constructed so the site can be elevated to 2 meters above sea level and civil infrastructure, including water, electrical and sewer lines, can be installed.

Historically, the port is one of the oldest in the New World, visited by Christopher Columbus the first time he set foot upon the Central American mainland in 1502, during his fourth and final journey to America.

Today, Trujillo has been given a $20 million investment commitment to create 50,000 square feet of retail space for jewelry stores, designer boutiques, and a themed restaurant and bar. Vertical construction of the oceanfront shopping center and transportation hub should be completed in late 2012. The plans also include an excursions marina with a large, sandy beach to frame a pier large enough to handle two post-Panamax (too large to transit the Panama Canal) cruise ships.

The design is meant to evoke the glory days of the Banana Coast economy, when everything was fueled by the banana trade. Big commerce, steam trains, foreign consulates and American capitalists were mainstays in the colonial boom era from the 1920s to 1940s. Some remains of those glory days still remain.

Trujillo is southwest of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Its closest port neighbor is Roatan, while Belize is the closest mainland nation. The culture is a mix of peoples and races including the native Pech Indians, the Garifuna (Black Caribs), the Moskito Indians, and mestizo (Spanish-native mix) peoples.

Natural Park to be Major Attraction

Close to Trujillo will be a new animal rescue and rehabilitation nature park called the Campo del Mar Park System. The site's main mission is the preservation and rehabilitation of Honduras' native animals.

Comprised of four park areas over nearly 80 acres, plans for the system include a Wildlife Park, a Riverside Recreational Park, a Village and a Heritage (historic) Park. The Wildlife Park will feature colonies of monkeys, exotic birds, and other rainforest animals living freely within their natural environment. A guided canopy and trail tour are planned so visitors can experience the rainforest without disturbing the wildlife.

Campo Del Mar has already completed a 42-foot-high by 50-foot-diameter monkey habitat housing eight monkeys of two species, rescued by the country's Natural Resource Authorities. This organization will support the park system along with the National Institute of Conservation and Forestry Development as well as Fucagua, a local private organization dedicated to protecting the environment. Other facilities planned for the park include habitats for crocodiles and jaguars.

A farm that already grows bananas, oranges, starfruit, grapefruit, avocados and mangoes will produce a variety of fruits and vegetables to support the park's inhabitants.

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