Final Decision Delayed for New MSC Cruises Galveston Terminal

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The Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees recently voted to delay the approval of an operating agreement with MSC Cruises for the proposed fourth cruise terminal in the city. This decision comes as final plans for the Terminal and surrounding buildings and projects are expected in February. 

At a total cost of $140 million, MSC’s Terminal 16 represents a significant investment for the Port of Galveston and MSC Cruises. It’s also the third major cruise terminal investment in Galveston after Royal Caribbean International’s Cruise Terminal 10 and Carnival Cruise Line’s Cruise Terminal 25.

MSC Cruises’ Terminal 16 Sees Slight Delay

In the board of trustees meeting held on January 13, the Port of Galveston announced it would be delaying the vote for an agreement with Switzerland-based cruise line MSC Cruises. 

During the meeting the board discussed updates to the contract with MSC Cruises, intending to finalize an agreement for the cruise company to sail from Cruise Terminal 16. 

Rodger Rees, the Port Director, stated that although all the issues have been ironed out from a practical standpoint, the final vote on the contract has been postponed to a meeting in February. 

The Port of Galveston wants to give city officials a clear overview of what is going on at the port. Those same officials have voiced their concerns regarding the port’s plans and the increased traffic and potential parking issues that the new terminal might bring.

MSC Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock

In November, the port’s board approved a $5 million contract with Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc. for the design and engineering of the fourth cruise terminal. Rees mentioned that the engineering and design drawings for the terminal are expected to be completed by February, which means the port can give city officials a better overview of its plans.

Those concerns are not unfounded. While MSC Cruises will be the prime user for Terminal 16, other cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises, have voiced their interest in using the new cruise terminal. 

Galveston’s Growing Cruise Industry

Cruise Terminal 16 is part of a larger plan that includes a new terminal building, parking garage, passenger boarding bridge, and essential improvements like access roads and utilities. The estimated costs for the complete project are around $140 million.

Galveston is emerging as a leading cruise homeport globally, hosting major cruise lines like Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises.

Galveston Cruise Terminal
Galveston Cruise Terminal (Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov)

The Port of Galveston’s growth is evident with the introduction of larger and newer ships. For instance, Royal Caribbean International launched its new terminal in Galveston with Allure of the Seas, while Harmony of the Seas is currently homeported in the southern Texas city.

Similarly, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Jubilee, Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess, Disney Cruises Disney Magic, and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Prima have strengthened Galveston’s position as a key player in the cruise industry.

Terminal 16 Another Boost For Galveston

Besides the new cruise terminal for Royal Caribbean, Terminal 10; and Cruise Terminal 25, which has been extensively renovated for Carnival Cruise Line, Terminal 16 would be another huge boost for cruises from Galveston.

Rodger Rees commented on this development: “The master plan projected the need for a fourth terminal in the 2030s, but due to cruise industry growth and acreage at Pier 16 coming available earlier than expected, we have the opportunity to move forward now.”

While a final construction date has not yet been announced, MSC Cruises has already announced the first ship to start sailing from Galveston. Starting on November 9, 2025, MSC Seascape will be sailing on seven-day cruises to the Western Caribbean, calling to ports such as Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Roatan.

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