Galveston closed 2017 with several cruise milestones

Cruisers head to check-in at the Port of Galveston Cruisers head to check-in at the Port of Galveston (Photo: Anne Kalosh)

The Port of Galveston achieved a new milestone in December, embarking 113,488 passengers, surpassing previous volumes and setting a record as the busiest month since the port began its cruise business in September 2000.

In another milestone during the last month of 2017, the port welcomed its 9 millionth cruise passenger since beginning cruise operations.

December was also a record month for cruise calls. The 33 visits broke the previous record month of 29 turnarounds set in December 2005.

Last month was 'the most successful in terms of both passenger throughput and cruise sailings in the 17-year history of cruise operations from the Port of Galveston, and all indications suggest that we will continue to surpass records throughout 2018,' interim port director Peter Simons said.

He credited the strategic direction provided by the Wharves Board of Trustees and the hard work of the longshoremen and cruise terminal staff, the support of the local business community, Park Board and Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the city council.

'Their efforts have helped make Galveston Island an exciting destination to cruise from,' Simons said.

The port projects another banner year for the cruise business in 2018. Carnival Cruise Line will further bolster its Galveston fleet by repositioning Carnival Vista to Texas in September, joining Carnival Freedom and Carnival Valor.

The three ships will offer the widest array of cruise durations and itineraries to destinations in Mexico, Belize, Roatán and the Bahamas. In 2018, these three ships are projected to carry more than 650,000 passengers annually from Galveston, more than any other operator.

Royal Caribbean International's Vision of the Seas repositioned to Galveston in November, joining Liberty of the Seas, the largest cruise ship to sail from Texas. Vision offers four- and five-day sailings to Mexico, with most stopping at Cozumel and Costa Maya.

Texas reports annual economic benefits from cruise operations in the form of $1.42bn in direct spending and 25,166 jobs generating $1.62bn in income. The state accounted for 6.6% of the cruise industry's direct expenditures, 6.5% of its total employment impact and 7.9% in income impact.

Galveston is ranked fourth busiest cruise port in the nation. Cruise activity generated $58.4m in passenger on-shore spending and another $19.1m in services provided at the port in 2016. Cruise operations also created 1,232 direct jobs, according to a 2016 report produced by Martin and Associates.

Posted 12 January 2018

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Anne Kalosh

US editor of Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Cruise News

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