Today, the 15th anniversary of the start of its full-calendar cruising, the Port of Galveston tallied 2,643 calls, 18 cruise ships and more than 7m passengers over 15 years.
Port director Mike Mierzwa extended a special thank you to Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean for choosing Galveston as a base for their new, innovative ships, in order to give travelers the opportunity to visit destinations in the Caribbean and Bahamas.
Mierzwa also acknowledged the cruise lines’ shore staff, the International Longshoremen’s Association, federal agencies such as Customs and Border Protection and the US Coast Guard and the 'tremendous support' from the local community throughout the years.
In 2014, the Port of Galveston embarked approximately 640,000 passengers thanks to the cruise industry's record commitment to Texas. These deployments are expected to carry more than 824,000 passengers in 2015, a 28% increase.
According to the port, cruise-related direct spending in Texas totals more than $1.2bn and creates almost 20,000 jobs paying nearly $1.1bn in total income. Texas accounts for 6.3% of the cruise industry’s direct expenditures, and 5.6% of the industry' overall spending nationwide.
'Today we celebrate the positive impact the cruise industry has had on our community. It is important that we recognize that not only is this business great for Galveston, but also for the entire state of Texas,' Mierzwa said. He added the port is dedicated to continuing to make improvements that will keep Galveston a top-notch cruise destination and keep the cruise business thriving for another successful 15 years.
The port has invested more than $85m into cruise facilities since 2000, and Galveston is looking at what improvements will be needed to accommodate three cruise ships sailing from the port on the same day.
In 2016, Carnival Breeze will replace Carnival Magic and Carnival Liberty will take over for Carnival Triumph, joining Carnival Freedom which arrived in Galveston last February.
Disney Cruise Line will return to Galveston for the 2015 holiday season. Starting Nov. 6 and through January, Disney Wonder will offer a seven-night itinerary with stops at Key West, Nassau and Castaway Cay.
Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas will replace Navigator of the Seas on Nov. 13. At 1,112 feet, Liberty of the Seas will become the port's largest cruise ship. It will operate seven-night western Caribbean itineraries with destinations including Roatán, Belize City, Cozumel, Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay and Costa Maya.