Port of Galveston and Cruise Lines Sign Agreement on Shore Power

The Port of Galveston signed an agreement with Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Group to bring shore power to the port.

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As it grows and puts more emphasis on building a more sustainable port, the Port of Galveston has been busy developing several initiatives to lessen the environmental impact on the surrounding areas. 

The port announced on November 7 it had agreed with several cruise lines and other stakeholders to build up shore power capabilities in the port through a non-binding memorandum of understanding. The companies involved include Carnival Corporation, CenterPoint Energy, Royal Caribbean Group, Shell, and Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Shore Power Coming to Port of Galveston

Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group, CenterPoint Energy, Shell, and Texas A&M University will work with the Port of Galveston to develop shore-power capabilities at the port. The plans align closely with the initiatives of the cruise companies and the port to achieve net-zero carbon operations by 2050

Shore power enables cruise ships to connect to onshore electrical sources for onboard power instead of using auxiliary diesel-powered engines, which produce emissions. This provides significant savings to the cruise companies, as well as a much smaller impact on the environment. It will also eliminate the black smoke often associated with cruise ships in port.

Cruise Ship at Port of Galveston
Photo Credit: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

The memorandum of understanding is the first step for the various companies involved and outlines the intention to develop a project timeline, cost estimates, and proposed agreements. When the project will be completed is not clear at this point.

Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director and CEO: “As a Green Marine-certified port, we recognize shore power as an opportunity to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gases associated with maritime activities.”

“This project working group is our dream team. It’s a winning combination with energy infrastructure expertise from Shell and CenterPoint Energy, the experience of major cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Carnival, and the educational and research resources of Texas A&M-Galveston.”

Shore Power Important for Cruise Lines

The possibility of using shore power is an integral part of the plans for the cruise industry to reach a net-zero carbon offset by 2050 and its environmental goals by 2030. Royal Caribbean is opening its brand-new cruise terminal in Galveston on November 9, the first cruise terminal worldwide to generate 100% of its energy needs through solar power. 

The terminal has already been outfitted for Allure of the Seas to use shore power when it does become available. The Oasis-class Allure of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship to homeport in Galveston, making shore power an important goal:

“We are in lock-step with Galveston Wharves’ vision for sustainable cruising,” said Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group. “Our Galveston cruise terminal is built with sustainability top-of-mind and will operate using 100-percent renewable, onsite energy. This step toward shore power at the Port of Galveston extends our efforts and our collective goal of a clean energy future.”

Norwegian Prima in Galveston, Texas
Photo Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line will also be increasing its sailings from Galveston soon, culminating in the arrival of its new cruise ship, Carnival Jubilee, in 2023. The 180,000 gross-ton cruise ship is currently under construction in Germany and is being outfitted with shore power capabilities, and runs entirely on clean-burning LNG. 

Christine Duffy, the president of Carnival Cruise Line: “As we prepare to bring the magnificent Carnival Jubilee to Galveston next year, we could not think of a better time to work with the Galveston Wharves and our other partners to bring shore power closer to reality.”

“We are fully committed to a successful shore power program, as it is in line with our top priorities of compliance and environmental protection, as well as the health, safety, and well-being of our guests, employees, and the people in the communities we touch and serve.”

Galveston is the fourth most popular cruise port in the United States and is a top-50 cargo port. The port welcomed nearly 1000 ships in 2021 and is expected to grow further in the coming years, making the need for environmental measures such as shore power ever more critical. 

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