Galveston: Growing Cruise Business Generated $1.5 Billion. Welcomed the Disney Wonder. Coming soon, Cruise Terminal 3
As the Port of Galveston’s cruise industry grows, so does its local and state economic impact. According to a national report, Galveston’s cruise business grew by 13 percent in 2018, resulting in $1.5 billion in cruise industry direct expenditures and 26,241 jobs with total wages of $1.75 billion in Texas.
With almost 1 million embarking cruise passengers in 2018, the Port of Galveston has ranked as the fourth busiest cruise port in the U.S. since 2012.
Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director and CEO, said, “We’re on track for another banner year in 2019. Our thriving cruise business has a significant direct economic impact on the port, Galveston businesses and the state economy.”
According to a new report by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Galveston’s cruise industry has increased 126 percent since 2010 and is one of few U.S. ports to see such steady increases.
As the only cruise homeport in Texas, Galveston contributed directly to the state’s cruise industry growth. CLIA reported that Texas accounted for 6.3 percent of the cruise industry’s overall spending nationwide, 6.2 percent of the industry’s total employment impact and 7.6 percent of the income impact. The state ranks third in terms of the economic benefits it receives from the global cruise industry.
Rees added that growing cruise activity results in increases in port revenues, waterfront jobs, port parking sales tax and hotel tax revenues paid to the city, and local spending by cruise passengers and crews. According to CLIA, cruise passenger visits and crew arrivals in 2018 totaled 1.4 million, resulting in an estimated $115 million in onshore spending.
Galveston one of the few selected US homeports for Disney
On Nov. 22, the Port of Galveston welcomed the Disney Wonder for a special series of sailings to the Caribbean and Bahamas, with options at four, six and seven nights, through January 2020.
Earlier this year, port officials announced that they had signed an agreement with Disney Cruise Line to extend preferential berthing agreement rights at the port for an additional 10 years with an option to renew for two additional five-year periods effective Nov. 1, 2018.
The agreement outlines plans for a shared cruise terminal that will accommodate a ship equal to or larger than the Disney Magic/Disney Wonder class of vessel. Additionally, it is projected that over the first five years of the potential 20-year agreement, Disney will nearly double its sailings. Disney Cruise Line has orders on the books for three new cruise ships
Coming soon, Cruise Terminal 3
Port officials are finalizing a long-term contract with Royal Caribbean International (RCI) for a new $100 million cruise terminal at Pier 10. Through the public-private partnership, RCI would build the terminal then lease it from the port for the initial term of 20 years with four 10-year options.
The port will be responsible for items including maintenance, parking and improvements to the dock so that it can accommodate the larger vessels. RCI will contribute to the cost of improving the docks.
The port began its successful partnership with RCI in 2002 with the inaugural sailing of Rhapsody of the Seas. Currently, the port is home to Liberty of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the state of Texas, and the Enchantment of the Seas.