The port plans to use cash reserves to help fund several major capital projects, with grants and revenue bonds to cover the balance.
2024 cruise-related activity includes the completion of Cruise Terminal 25 improvements for Carnival Jubilee, the start of work on the proposed Cruise Terminal 16 and its parking garage and continued expansion of the Express Lot for onsite parking at cruise terminals 25 and 28.
Cruise Terminal 16 and NCL?
In early November, Galveston Port Director/CEO Rodger Rees said a contract with MSC Cruises as the major tenant of Terminal 16 was about 90% complete and expected to be ready in the next 30 days.
Norwegian Cruise Line is another potential user. Seatrade Cruise News asked President David Herrera on Wednesday if NCL is still in that deal.
'We're talking to the port,' he said, but didn't have further specifics to share. 'We're excited about Galveston as an embarkation port,' he added. 'We want to be sure that we're guest first and providing them with the best experience we can so we're optimistic about the future potential.'
Norwegian Prima is due to sail from Galveston this December to March, the first time NCL has operated regularly from there.
Princess Cruises Chief Commercial Officer Terry Thornton said he is 'closely watching' the fourth terminal: 'It might be something Princess is interested in, for itinerary flexibiilty.
'We're totally fine with Terminal 28 right now,' he added.
Regal Princess, the largest Princess ship ever based in Texas, just began its inaugural season from Galveston. This also stretches to March.
Ruby Princess had operated there in winter/spring 2022, returning the line to Galveston after a six-year absence.
Galveston Wharves' 2024 budget includes projected operating revenues of $72.5m, $35.5m in operating expenses and $37m in net income.
'Record revenues will allow the port to fund major expansion and maintenance projects to maximize port assets, generating regional economic growth and more jobs,' Rees said.
Revenues are forecast to be 12% over 2023, largely due to cruise growth, as well as increases in dockage, wharfage and real estate fees. Cruise-related income is expected to tally $49.8m.
1.6m cruisers possible in 2024
The port expects a 30% increase in passengers at the end of 2023 due to the addition of a third cruise terminal, Royal Caribbean's, in November 2022, higher occupancies on larger ships and more sailings. One million passengers passed through Galveston's terminals in 2022, with as many as 1.4m expected by the end of 2023.
That growth trend should continue in 2024. The port anticipates a 14% increase to 1.6m passengers, driven by larger ships like Carnival Jubilee and a record approximately 390 calls.
Rees said: 'We’re reaping the rewards of our long-range plan to increase revenues and reduce costs to reinvest cash reserves in port improvements. Next year will be a landmark year in the port’s 198-year history thanks to $42.3 million in state grants, the support of our Wharves Board and City Council, investments by our cruise partners and hard work by our great staff.'
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