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Port Canaveral pinpoints location for new multi-user cruise terminal

Bluepoints Marina is located to the far left in this photo, past the left-most Royal Caribbean ship
Port Canaveral is eyeing the current site of Bluepoints Marina for its new cruise terminal, which likely would serve multiple lines.

Port CEO Capt. John Murray pinpointed the location for what would be Canaveral's seventh cruise terminal during Wednesday's port authority meeting. Bluepoints Marina is located at the far western end of the port, west of Royal Caribbean's Cruise Terminal 1.

In other port news, commissioners approved an agreement with MSC Cruises, and a study found Canaveral's economic impact shot up to $6.1b from $3.2b in 2018.

Multi-user terminal

The new cruise terminal wouldn't be designated for one brand, Murray said. Instead, like CT-5 and CT-10, it would have multiple users.

'It's important to maintain that as a big ship terminal. It's important we don't get boxed out,' Murray said, noting how one terminal serves a 6,000-passenger ship and a 3,500-passenger ship. 'That's probably not the best use of that large facility but that's the deal we have now,' he said.

'Our goal is bring in the best asset and get the most utilization out of that asset.'

Last month officials disclosed $175m had been budgeted for a new cruise terminal on the port's south side that would serve the largest ships but did not specify a location. The terminal is expected to open in 2026.

On Wednesday, Murray said relocating Bluepoints Marina — a boat storage facility with dry storage and wet slips —  would have the least impact on the port community. He'd also like to see a more modern facility for commercial and recreational boat storage.

Moving Bluepoints may affect other tenants that don't need to have water access, such as storage facilities and a gun shop.

'It's really important that we cater to the people that actually need the port,' Murray said. 'We're a seaport. We need to focus on ... serving those people that need the bulkhead.'

MSC Cruises agreement

Port commissioners approved a three-year, four-month cruise operating contract with MSC Cruises for alternating three-/four-day and seven-day itineraries from CT-10 for MSC Divina, MSC Meraviglia, MSC Seaside or MSC Seashore, with two one-year extensions.

Murray noted MSC had begun sailing from Canaveral with one ship in September 2021. Since then, 'They've established themselves quite well in the local market.'

$4b impact from cruise

Port Canaveral's economic impact has grown significantly, to $6.1b, with cruise comprising the bulk of that: $4b, according to Rich Higginson of Business Research & Economic Advisors.

Embarking passenger volumes soared 44% since 2018, an 'incredible' change, Higginson said, pointing out that growth was on a big number since Canaveral had been the world's second busiest cruise port. In 2022, it overtook PortMiami to become No. 1. 

The $6.1b supports 42,700 jobs across the state, a 31% increase since 2018, and $2.1b in wages, a 59% spike.

Higginson said during 2023, Canaveral is expected to have more than 3m embarking multi-day cruise passengers and 369,000 transit passengers along with more than 1.2m crew arrivals.

BREA estimates 57% of embarking passengers had a pre- or post-cruise stay, with the average stay 2.3 nights. The average nightly accommodation cost $202.

Direct cruise expeditures

Direct cruise line expenditures were $982.3m, direct passenger spending $898.5m and direct crew spending $38.9m.

Each embarking passenger spends an average $297. Overnight passengers spend an average $462, compared to day of arrival passengers' $75. Each transit passenger who goes ashore spends an average $88. Crew who go ashore (an estimated 29%) spend, on average, $110.

Murray said the port's regional economic impact is 'huge,' going beyond Brevard County to Central and South Florida and statewide. Cruisers use hotels and ground transportation, buy gasoline and food, dine in restaurants and visit Kennedy Space Center and Orlando.

A large Royal Caribbean ship carries about the same number of people as the population of Cape Canaveral, he said, and each week that ship is loading up food, supplies and fuel.