No one knows precisely when cruise ships will sail again from the Port of Galveston; however, Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves’ port director, and chief executive officer released an update on the state of the Port and reiterated the Port would be ready to sail as soon as there is permission from the CDC.
Although the Port is often overlooked as an essential homeport for ships, Galveston is the fourth largest cruise port in the United States. As such, it plays a vital role in the resumption of cruises.
Heavy Investments in Health and Safety Upgrades
Cruise ships are not alone in making upgrades to accommodate the CDC’s demands on the various factors that make a cruise a success. As such, the Port of Galveston has invested more than $100,000 in health and safety measures. It is also reviewing the necessary changes required to port terminals, parking areas, and other operations.
As with the cruise lines, the various ports in the United States are waiting for updates from the CDC on what is expected of them, something that is taking far longer than anyone in the industry expected, Rodger Rees:
To date, we’ve voluntarily invested $100,000 in health and safety upgrades in our cruise terminals. We continuously monitor updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop the guidelines that ports will follow for cruise terminal, parking and other operations.
Perhaps against better judgement, the Port aims to have everything ready for a return of cruising by July. However, Rees clarifies that the current expectation is cruising to resume by the end of the summer or early fall of this year. Something that is hurting the local economy, as it has done in Florida and Alaska.
Thousands of Texans benefit from the Port of Galveston
The cruise industry is a significant contributor to the local economy in Galveston. Thousands of families depend on the cruise industry and the tens of thousands of cruise ship guests that drive or fly down to Galveston each year.
Suspension of cruising from Galveston has resulted in enormous losses for the Texas economy and families who rely on this industry. Based on historical economic impact annual statistics, losses are estimated at $1.2 billion in direct spending, 23,000 jobs, and $1.6 billion in wages statewide.
Although other major ports in the United States often rely solely on cruise ships, the Port of Galveston is fortunate to have a more diverse business mix, including cargo and commercial operations.
The port authorities have joined the many stakeholders that have called for the CDC to lift the conditional sail order as soon as possible,
“We’re also involved in regular discussions with cruise industry leaders to raise awareness among elected officials, the CDC and other decision-makers about the critical importance of getting the U.S. cruise industry sailing again.”
The Port will want to see cruising return as soon as possible to accommodate Allure of the Seas from the new terminal 3 Royal Caribbean is planning to build.
A Game Changer For Galveston
Royal Caribbean made the announcement last month it will invest $100 million in the new cruise terminal, which will house Allure of the Seas, one of the largest ships in the world. The plan is currently that the vessel will start operations from Galveston around the end of 2022.
It is excellent news for Galveston as the terminal and ship operations will generate around 1,300 new jobs, $60.7 million in personal income, $1.4 billion in local business services revenue, and $5.6 million in state and local taxes. Of course, this doesn’t consider the massive impact the operations will have on the local economy once ships start sailing.
First, the CDC will need to give the go-ahead for sailings now, something the agency is taking its time with.