Steady Growth for Carnival in Galveston

Carnival Vista in Galveston

The Carnival Radiance and Breeze will join the Vista and Dream sailing from Galveston year-round in May 2021, Carnival Cruise Line announced today.

“We’ve been undergoing steady growth in Galveston since we started sailing there in 2000 with one ship,” said Fred Stein senior director of revenue planning and fleet development, Carnival Cruise Line.

The line went to three ships out of Galveston in 2015, with the Vista taking the place of the Breeze recently and adding more berths to the market.

“The next level of growth is adding a fourth ship,” Stein continued.

The four ships will mean Carnival is posting a 25 per cent increase in berths out of Galveston, according to Cruise Industry News data, with over 13,000 berths based in the Texas port in 2021.

Demand comes via 37 million people within a 500-mile drive, according to Stein, and many who fly in from the West Coast to Houston.

Fred Stein

The Radiance, which will be converted from the Carnival Victory after a $200 million drydock next year, is moving to Galveston from Port Canaveral, while the Breeze comes over from Port Everglades for her Texas return.

The Freedom will be redeployed elsewhere, with an announcement expected soon.

All told, Carnival could carry nearly one million guests from Galveston on 235 itineraries in 2021, ranging from five to 14 days.

Stein said the port’s infrastructure can handle the four ships, and parking capacity was more than sufficient. 

The Radiance will concentrate on mainly five-day cruises, but three new nine-day options are available that depart on Fridays. Stein said these voyages were ideal as they offered a nine-day vacation, but for the most guest, only a week off work.

One nine-day option will call at Cozumel, Limon (Costa Rica), and feature a partial Panama Canal transit or a visit to Colon (Panama), while another features Key West, Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau. The third voyage calls at Grand Cayman, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel.

“This is the most differentiated content we have been able to offer from Galveston,” Stein told Cruise Industry News. 

The company is also offering two 14-day Carnival Journeys sailings, featuring eight ports each. 

“Those offer a lot of differentiated port content you wouldn’t get on a short cruise,” Stein said.

The Carnival Breeze will move into the short cruise rotation, sailing year-round four- and five-day itineraries.

“The Breeze has been in Galveston for quite a while,” Stein said. “She is very popular in Texas and will take on the four- and five-day cruises that the Dream is doing.”

Four-day “weekend” cruises leave on Thursdays and call in Cozumel while five-day cruises depart on Mondays and Saturdays with calls at Cozumel and either Progreso or Costa Maya. 

The Dream will move to a new six- and eight-day cruise schedule in May 2021 while the Vista will sail week-long cruises on two separate Western Caribbean itineraries.

Carnival plans to carry its 8 millionth guest from Galveston in early 2021.

2000 to 2020

Carnival started year-round cruising out of Galveston in 2000 with the Carnival Celebration, which was based in the port and offered four- and five-day Western Caribbean sailings at the time.

Double Carnival Call in Galveston

At the time, the Miami-based brand was the first major cruise line to base a ship year-round out of Galveston. Carnival made a five-year deal in 2000 and in return, the port invested in renovating its passenger terminal and building a parking facility for 1,100 cars.

It’s been all growth then, with the Jubilee joining the Celebration in 2002. 

The ships got bigger over time, and two ships became three in 2015, with 2021 set to see four ships sailing year-round for Carnival from Galveston.

Carnival line’s largest ship going to Port Canaveral

Image result for carnival horizon

Carnival Cruise Line said it reached an agreement with the Canaveral Port Authority to build a new terminal for the 5,286-passenger ship Carnival plans to deploy in 2020.

The 180,000-gross ton ship is 34% larger than Carnival’s most recent vessel, the 134,000-ton Carnival Horizon.

Carnival noted that the vessel will offer “an array of groundbreaking, never-before-seen features and attractions,” while also being the first North American-based cruise ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas.

Further ship details, along with itineraries from Port Canaveral, are expected to be announced in 2019.

The ship is the second recent newbuild set to debut outside of Miami, where Carnival’s newest ships are typically based. Next year, the Carnival Panorama will debut in Long Beach, Calif., which will be its year-round homeport.

Carnival said it currently has three year-round ships based in Port Canaveral carrying upwards of 650,000 passengers a year. In October, the six-year-old Carnival Breeze will be repositioned from Galveston to homeport at Port Canaveral as well.

Carnival Cruise Line’s Christine Duffy Interview

Image result for carnival vista
Carnival Vista Above.

The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) inspects cruise ships that visit U.S. ports to check their sanitation and hygiene conditions and grades them on a scale of 1 to 100. Most ships get a passing grade of 86 or higher, which was why it was so surprising that four ships from Carnival Cruise Line received unsatisfactory grades in a two-month period from Nov. 11 to Jan. 4. Two of the four, the Carnival Breeze and the Vista, are Carnival’s two newest ships. The others were the Carnival Triumph and the Liberty. The three ships that were graded under 86 in 2017 represent nearly 20% of all the ships that failed in 2017, out of a total of 256 inspections. Cruise editor Tom Stieghorst spoke with cruise line president Christine Duffy about the run of failures.

Q: How do you account for it? I can’t think of a year in which four ships from a single line were graded unsatisfactory, much less four in two months.

Christine Duffy
Christine Duffy

A: Neither can we. Obviously, it was very concerning to all of us. We have a dedicated shoreside team that manages the work with USPHS and then teams onboard the ships. We’ve always been very proud of the scores that we’ve gotten.

Q: What do you say to passengers?

A: I think the most important thing to say is that the findings have really not compromised public health.

Q: Are there specific issues that produced those low scores?

A: While there’s a lot of retraining, and refocus and re-emphasise that we are taking care of, based on some of the scores, a lot of it has been administrative inconsistencies, and also issues where we have been asked to replace certain equipment. So there’s different standards and different equipment that we are replacing. But it takes some time from that point to the time when we’ll be able to get it onboard the ships. That is all in process. Some of it may be coffee pots, … salad bowls.

Q: Were all the Carnival ships inspected during November and December graded unsatisfactory?

A: Carnival Glory and Carnival Pride were also inspected during this time and got scores of 99 and 95, [respectively].

Q: How alarmed should people be about the “unsatisfactory” label?

A: I think some of this is reminding people that a passing score is 86, which is a pretty high bar. Failure doesn’t actually indicate any unsanitary or public health concern. Obviously, if there were, we wouldn’t be able to sail. There’s been no disruption to any of our guests.

As you know, we are the only industry in hospitality that is in a program where it’s voluntary. We pay for all the services that USPHS provides. I think when the program began, it was with the idea that setting the pass/fail at 86 would make sure that all the cruise lines and cruise ships would get information before there was ever a problem, to be able to address it.

Q: One problem that seemed to occur on several ships was the crew working while they were ill. What can you do to discourage sick crew members from working?

A: Some of that was actually people who were not filling out the forms before they were coming back to work. That became a deduction in points. We have reiterated to all of our crew members, to the medical team onboard, to our department managers, that if someone is sick we don’t want them working. The last thing we want is to have any issues that would create a public health concern or an outbreak. Fortunately, we have not had those, so clearly, again, I think some of this is we need to do a tighter job on the documentation when someone was writing in and signing out, and so those were part of the administrative inconsistencies that have caused these failures.