On November 7, 2023, the Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees voted in approval of a $5.3 million (USD) engineering and architecture contract for what will be the fourth cruise terminal at Port of Galveston, further strengthening the homeport’s position as a cruise leader. While much remains to be decided at this time, this step is essential to opening a new terminal to service even more ships.
Terminal and Infrastructure Design Work to Begin
Galveston is one of the fastest growing cruise homeports in the world, with more ships basing from the Lone Star State than ever before and more major cruise lines – Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, MSC Cruises – all sailing vessels from the port.
Now, the port is one step closer to further expansion as the Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees has approved consulting and design services from Bermella Ajamil & Partners, Inc. (BA) for development of Cruise Terminal 16, with a fee not to exceed $5.3 million.
“This vote moves us one step closer to finalizing a budget and construction plans to open a new terminal at Pier 16 as early as 2025,” said Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves Port Director and CEO.
“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.”
The scope of BA’s work will include designing the new terminal building and an adjacent parking garage, a passenger boarding bridge for embarkation and debarkation, and related improvements to include access roads, essential utilities, and nearby surface parking.
Funding for the fee is to be from existing port cash reserves from active operations as well as revenue bonds and other funding sources.
About the New Terminal Project
Cruise Terminal 16 is slated for homeport operation with MSC Cruises, an agreement dating from late 2022. In the months since, various teams have been working on the project and putting together plans, including site visits and design ideas.
At the moment, estimated costs for the full project run close to $140 million, which includes not only the terminal building ($58 million) but also an adjacent garage ($42 million) and other supporting facilities, testing, and engineering development. The project team is continuing to investigate options to reduce overall costs and maximize budgetary efficiency.
BA has now been retained for design work on the project, including permitting, construction administration, and bidding oversight. While MSC Cruises is not directly mentioned in the recent budgeting vote, it is likely that the cruise line may have some consulting input on the overall design and technical needs.
Growth at Galveston
The Port of Galveston is a rising star among US homeports, with newer and larger ships operating from the port and bringing more varied options to travelers from Texas.
Royal Caribbean International opened its new Galveston terminal in November 2022 with Allure of the Seas setting sail, the largest cruise ship ever to homeport from Texas.
Carnival Cruise Line is basing the upcoming Carnival Jubilee from Galveston, with a commitment to the Lone Star State firmly emblazoned on the ship’s bow, while Princess Cruises is homeporting Ruby Princess from Galveston this winter, the first Princess Cruises’ ship to sail from Texas in six years.
This year marks 22 years as a cruise homeport for Port of Galveston, with the port setting records all year long.
“This year we’re poised to set new records with five cruise lines, 13 ships, more than 350 scheduled sailings and an estimated 1.3 million-plus passengers,” said Rees.
Galveston is now the fourth busiest US homeport, behind only the major Florida homeports at Port Canaveral, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale. What will the years to come bring for Texas cruising?