Galveston Explores Possibility of Fourth Cruise Terminal

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Over the last couple of years, Galveston has steadily expanded its cruise offerings as the largest US cruise port outside of Florida. However, the port is still limited due to the number of cruise terminals. 

That is one key area that Galveston Wharves hopes to address by exploring the possibility of building a fourth cruise terminal at piers 16-18 through a public-private partnership with an undisclosed major international cruise company. This would be similar to the construction that the port developed with Royal Caribbean for its cruise terminal. 

New Galveston Cruise Terminal?

The cruise industry considerably impacts the revenue that Galveston Wharves makes each year, up to 60% of the total business generated in the port. However, Galveston is still underdeveloped compared to other popular cruise ports in the United States. 

The Port’s master plan is for a new cruise terminal to be completed between 2030 and 2040. However, according to Rodger Rees, Port Director and CEO, the opportunity to build a new terminal has come up sooner than expected, as an undisclosed cruise company has presented itself as a likely partner.

Galveston Cruise Terminal 2
Photo Credit: Port of Galveston

Rodger Rees, Port Director and CEO, Galveston Wharves: “The master plan includes another terminal in the 2030-2040 timeframe, but the opportunity has presented itself now. Acreage currently under lease for a cargo operation will come available sooner than expected. Also, cruise lines looking to expand are strongly interested in Galveston.”

The location for the new terminal would be at piers 16-18, where the lease for a container shipping operation will soon expire, opening up a large parcel of land for development, and creating a much more pleasant area:

“As envisioned in the master plan, the surrounding neighborhoods will benefit from the port’s expanded interior roadway and with attractive landscaped areas replacing the industrial look of stacked containers,” Rees continued. 

Which Cruise Line Will Operate the New Cruise Terminal in Galveston?

Currently, two major cruise lines have permanent operations at Galveston port, Carnival Corporation, and Royal Caribbean Group, at its recently opened cruise terminal. According to several online reports, the interested parties in developing the new terminal, supposedly called Terminal 16, would be Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings or MSC Cruises.

Royal Caribbean Galveston Terminal

Galveston Wharves already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with MSC Cruises for the development of Cruise Terminal 16. However, this is a non-binding agreement and has been put in place at the request of MSC Cruises. The agreement will be in place only for a 90-day period, during which the companies will see if they will work together.

The possibility of MSC Cruises operating a cruise terminal in Galveston would make sense; the European cruise company has been steadily working on expanding its footprint in the United States. However, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is still a viable option. 

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Prima will homeport in Galveston in 2023. Norwegian could be interested in building on that relationship further depending on the success of Prima’s season in Galveston. 

Whoever operates the new fourth cruise terminal, it will mean a massive boost to the local economy. The terminal would create an additional 925 jobs, $58.6 million in income, $177 million in revenues, $21 million in onshore spending by passengers and crew, and $5 million in state and local taxes.

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