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Port Canaveral cruise ship occupancy at 100%, 2023 budget rises on cruise clout

A six-ship day on March 28, 2022, The cruise segment has performed better than expected year-to-date
Port Canaveral's cruise business is performing extremely well, with one week in July hitting an all-time record passenger count, and ship occupancy currently at more than 100%.

This was the backdrop for today's presentation of Canaveral's proposed 2023 budget, which includes a hefty increase in cruise revenues.

2022 cruise occupancy had been forecast at 50% for the first three months of the year and 75% for the last nine months. Currently cruise ships are operating at more than 100% occupancy, port CFO Michael Poole told Canaveral Port Authority commissioners.

Poole said the port is budgeting a 'conservative' 100% cruise occupancy for fiscal 2023, which starts in October.

2023 budget sees $30m hike in cruise revenue, 1.7m more passengers

The 2023 budget includes $153.9m in operating revenue, of which cruise comprises $124.5m, a $30m increase year over year. Operating expenses are projected at $108.5m.

Canaveral expects 5.8m passengers, an increase of 1.7m.

810 homeport calls

Some 909 multi-day cruise ship calls are on the books, including 810 homeport calls, an increase of 112 homeport calls.

Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Line continue with their three year-round and one seasonal ship each, Disney Cruise Line two year-round ships, MSC Cruises one year-round ship, Norwegian Cruise Line with three seasonal ships (an increase) and Marella Cruises with one seasonal ship (new service with 22 calls by Marella Discovery).

The port's capital improvement projects are budgeted at $75.5m, including $38m in new projects, of which $14.7m are related to cruise, including elements like passenger boarding bridges, parking, HVAC, canopy replacements and elevators/escalators. Poole said many of those items had been deferred the past two years.

July was 'exceptionally strong month'

As for 2022 year to date, since last October, the start of the port's fiscal year, Canaveral has handled 674 cruise calls and 3.2m multi-day passengers.

July was 'an exceptionally strong month,' port CEO Capt. John Murray said.

Since July the port has posted six consecutive weeks of more than 100,000 passengers, and the week of July 29 peaked at 120,300 passengers, a new record.

More and bigger ships

This is due to more and bigger ships. While nine ships were expected to homeport during the summer, that rose to 10 with the addition of Norwegian Getaway, redeployed from the Baltic due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Norwegian Getaway began weekly cruises June 27, Disney Wish's maiden voyage was July 14 and today Norwegian Joy will make its maiden call.

Murray noted July marked one year since cruise service restarted at Port Canaveral, with Mardi Gras on July 31, 2021.

The port anticipates ending fiscal 2022 with an estimated $122m in revenue, well ahead of the $109m projected, with $10m of that due to better than forecast cruise numbers. All business segments are producing above budgeted revenue.

Cruise and parking revenues YTD

Through July, year-to-date cruise revenues were at $58,561,932 (ahead of the $57,509,032 budgeted). Cruise parking revenues year-to-date were $21,270,155, way ahead of the  $12,655,055 budgeted.

The proposed 2023 budget awaits approval by Canaveral commissioners at their September meeting.

See also 'Port Canaveral pushes back on expanded right whale speed cap'

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