Galveston Continues Expansion of Cruise Products

The Liberty of the Seas sails year-round from Galveston

For the Port of Galveston, the major news for 2018 is the continued expansion of cruise products and related services available, according to Interim Port Director Peter Simons.

Carnival Cruise Line is moving the Carnival Vista to Galveston later in the year replacing the Breeze. The Vista will sail alongside the Liberty and the Freedom.

“To accommodate the Vista we are in the process of doing some infrastructure upgrades in Cruise Terminal No. 1,” said Simons.

Last fall, the port also welcomed the Vision of the Seas, and Simons explained that while she was originally intended to be a seasonal product, she is replacing the Enchantment of the Seas on a year-round basis.

“We will have three Carnival and two Royal Caribbean ships year-round, and Disney seasonally from October to January,” he added.

The current scheduling has two ships in port on Saturdays, two on Sundays, one each on Mondays and Thursdays, and Disney on Fridays.

Terminal Expansion

“We have completed the expansion of Cruise Terminal No. 2, and when we did the design for that, we planned for larger ships and more passengers. Both of our terminals are able to handle bigger ships and more capacity,” he said.

“What we are doing though on the channel side is adding mooring structures to accommodate the longer Carnival Vista, and we are also finishing a mooring improvement project at Terminal No. 2 that will enable us to handle even larger ships in the future. We are upgrading the main mooring to be 200-ton bollards – the longer dock will also allow us easier access to the loading doors.

“We are also in the conceptual stage, looking at the designs and options for a third cruise terminal. There is definitely demand to sail from Galveston on weekends and we want to be able to accommodate what we see as future growth in that market.”

Simons said the port is talking to cruise lines about how to fund the new terminal. He said the port’s options were either bank financing or teaming up with a cruise line.

Meanwhile, he is also looking at how to provide the next generation of ships with LNG.

Team Effort

At press time, Galveston projected just short of 1.9 million passengers embarking and disembarking on some 258 sailings for 2017, up from 1.7 million passengers for 2016. For this year, the forecast is for 308 sailings and more than 2 million passengers, according to Simons.

“We see a lot of people coming down a couple of days early for special events, so there is a fair amount of extra local spending in connection with the cruise traffic. The vast majority of the passengers are drive-ups regionally and usually from the lower Midwest, but even as far north as Illinois and South Dakota. The fly-ins are typically from the West Coast.

“There is also a wide variety of things to do both on Galveston Island and in the vicinity that we are working with the cruise lines on for pre- and post-stays,” he added.

Simons, who joined the port in 2012 and was director of operations before being named interim port director, credited the port staff, the longshoremen and the stevedores for Galveston’s growing cruise traffic. He said it was a team effort with very attentive and hard-working people, making the cruise lines feel comfortable here and helping to grow their business.

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Carnival cancels more Galveston cruises

Image result for Galveston cruise port
Galveston Cruise Port.

Carnival Cruise Line has now canceled two cruises from Galveston that it had hoped to offer in a shortened format.

Based on the uncertainty of the port reopening, Carnival said the Aug. 26 sailing of Carnival Freedom and the Aug. 27 departure of Carnival Breeze have been canceled.

Carnival, which had previously canceled the five-day Carnival Valor sailing from Galveston departing Aug. 26, also canceled the next Carnival Valor cruise leaving Aug. 31.

Guests will have a full refund processed to the original form of payment within three weeks, and will receive a 25% future cruise credit if a reservation is made in the next 60 days.

Coast Guard and port officials can’t say with any certainty when the port will reopen, Carnival added, but suggested it won’t be until late this week at the earliest.

The three Carnival ships will make stops in New Orleans during the next two days to let guests disembark if they want to make independent arrangements to return home. They can also wait and sail back to Galveston, Carnival said.

Freedom’s Arrival In Galveston Marked With $100,000 Donation

Carnival Cruise Line marked the arrival of Carnival Freedom at its new year-round home port of Galveston, Texas on Saturday, Feb. 14, with a celebration honoring U.S. military personnel and their families.

In partnership with Operation Homefront service members and their families were treated to an overnight event featuring a variety of daytime activities, including a Carnival LIVE performance by music superstar Martina McBride, along with dinner and a full evening of entertainment, all compliments of Carnival.

Prior to McBride’s concert, Carnival presented a check in the amount of $100,000 to Operation Homefront.

“We’re excited to kick off Carnival Freedom’s year-round deployment from Galveston with a donation to an organization that touches so many lives and a special event for the brave men and women who serve our country,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “Martina McBride put on a fantastic show and we were thrilled to honor these deserving military families and provide them with an incredible day and night to remember.”

Carnival Freedom kicked off year-round departures from Galveston yesterday with a special six-day voyage to Mexico and will launch four- to seven-day cruises calling at ports throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida beginning Feb. 21.  Carnival Freedom joins Carnival Triumph and Carnival Magic in Galveston. Together these three ships will carry more than 600,000 passengers annually from Texas — more than any other cruise line.

“Performing for these military families was an incredible honor. And everyone really enjoyed the outdoor setting on the ship’s deck,” said McBride. “I hope that everyone who was there had a special Valentine’s Day experience; I’m so glad I was asked to be part of it.”

“We’re thrilled Carnival Cruise Line honored these service members and their families by providing a truly memorable day and evening of onboard fun and exciting activities,” said Tim Farrell, chief operating officer for Operation Homefront.  “In that spirit, we’re also grateful for Carnival Cruise Line’s generous gift of $100,000, which will help military families here in Texas and throughout the country.”