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'We are a lot more than a terminal operator': SSA Marine's Borzone

'Yes, we are a terminal operator and a stevedore company, and we will continue to try to be the best at those, but we also have a lot more to offer,' SSA Marine's Stefano Borzone said
SSA Marine's cruise division aims to 'do everything we can to be the best partner for the industry,' President Stefano Borzone said. 'We are extremely multifacted. We are a lot more than terminal operator.'

The new division can help partners with sustainability goals and project financing, he continued, while the integration of SSA and Ceres into a 'seamless, very high performance operation will serve the cruise industry better than ever before.'

Decades of experience

Borzone joined the Carrix group with decades of experience from both the cruise line and port sides. He was an SVP in port and destination development with Carnival Corp. & plc and, most recently, Princess Cruises. Before that, he established and ran Metro Cruise Services as president for 13 years. He began his career at sea with Princess then went shoreside with Crystal Cruises and Silversea.

At Metro, Borzone became adept at growing with the industry, forging an organization that understood cruising's priorities and providing a valued service. At Carnival Corp., he learned the strategic importance of ports and destinations, and the most critical elements of the business that really move the needle.

Now he's been given the 'wonderful opportunity' to build on the strengths of SSA Marine and Ceres as a foundation to take industry partnership to the 'next level.'

Los Angeles-based Borzone reports directly to Carrix CEO Uffe Ostergaard in Seattle and spends a significant amount of time in Seattle and Miami.

He's not ready to name key team members because some of the cruise division's framework is still being put in place but said: 'We have a wonderful team with leaders coming from SSA Marine and Ceres. We are integrating that group of people and best practices to make a well-oiled machine,' all backed by the depth of Carrix with support in areas like finance and compliance.

Deepening the partnership

Priorities include deepening SSA Marine's partnership with cruise lines and ports in the areas it's known for but also looking at opportunities to become a financial partner and a sustainability partner.

'We are incredibly committed to the sustainabilty piece,' Borzone said. SSA Marine's scale can help cruise lines and ports achieve their sustainability goals via electrification of equipment, advancing waste management and innovative stevedoring.

A few years ago Ceres teamed with Royal Caribbean Group to help finance its new Galveston terminal, touted as the world's first net-zero cruise facility.


Ceres partnered with Royal Caribbean for its new Galveston cruise terminal

Borzone said SSA Marine is very interested in being a financial partner in further cruise-related infrastructure, ranging from helping expand existing homeport operations to developing new destinations.

'The need is there and we're trying to make sure we're part of the solution,' he said.

Collaborative approach

Asked how SSA Marine will differentiate itself from a company like Global Ports Holding, Borzone said he'll focus on a collaborative approach and tailored solutions.

He identified regions with the greatest need as the Caribbean, Mexico and West Coast US.

With a huge amount of capacity being deployed from Florida's top cruise homeports and Galveston in the Gulf, very large ships and the pressure to reduce carbon emissions by slowing down and operating more efficient itineraries, additional Caribbean options are critical.


As well, Borzone sees Mexico as an 'incredibly popular destination and a huge partner of the cruise lines. We need more ports in Mexico and we need to expand those we already have.'

SSA Marine operates a busy Cozumel terminal and for years there's been talk about an additional port there. The destination is 'critical' for cruise lines, according to Borzone, 'so we're paying very close attention and we are here to respond to whatever the need might be.'

On the Pacific, Baja California and northern Mexico 'would clearly benefit from additional destinations.'

'LA has a great future'

A request for proposals to privatize and expand cruise operations at the Port of Los Angeles is imminent. 'We think LA has a great future in the cruise industry and we're certainly interested in participating in that future,' Borzone added.

Plans for an additional cruise terminal in Seattle were paused during the pandemic, and Vancouver, BC has been looking at expanding beyond Canada Place for many years. SSA Marine is 'very close to that market and will adapt as opportunities arise.'

Consolidating the stevedoring team

Another important thrust is consolidating the stevedoring team to maximize best practices in areas ranging from equipment and speed of baggage handling (such as vacuum lifts in some ports) to safety, communications and labor relations.

'We have great people and really good practices we want to implement everywhere,' Borzone said, 'injecting innovation throughout the country in all our stevedoring operations.

'Yes, we are a terminal operator and a stevedore company, and we will continue to try to be the best at those, but we also have a lot more to offer,' he reiterated.

'We think the combination of our scale, our experience and our flexibility is a compelling mix.'