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 Vista cruises cancelled to fix thruster

Carnival Cruise Line has cancelled three July departures of the 3,934-passenger Carnival Vista to fix a propulsion problem. The Vista is a relatively new ship that entered service in May 2016.

The problem left the ship only able to operate at reduced speeds. Carnival said the Vista has been operating on revised itineraries the last two cruises because one of its two azipod thrusters is not operating normally.

The cruises cancelled are the Vista’s July 6, 13 and 20 departures from Galveston, Texas. Guests will get a full refund of cruise fares and any pre-purchased excursions.

Carnival is offering a credit of 100% of the fare paid towards the cost of a future Carnival cruise. It has also offered up to $200 per person for independent air expenses or change fees.

“We sincerely apologize for the unanticipated disruption to your vacation plans. We are deeply disappointed that we will not be able to deliver the cruise we had planned for you,” a Carnival guest letter said.

Carnival said the seven-day cruise scheduled to depart on June 22 from Galveston will now be an eight-day cruise departing June 23.  The cruise scheduled for June 29 will now depart on July 1 and will be a similar eight-day cruise. After that, the ship will be out of service for 17 days while all azipod thruster bearings are replaced.

In a conference call with analysts about 2019 second-quarter earnings, Carnival Corp. CFO David Bernstein said fixing the problem will take longer than it might otherwise have because damage to the drydock at the Grand Bahama Shipyard made it unavailable.

The drydock was damaged when a crane collapsed while making repairs to the Oasis of the Seas in April.

In its second-quarter earnings statement, Carnival said 2019 earnings would be reduced by $62 million to $74 million by “voyage disruptions related to Carnival Vista.”

Everything we know about the virtual balcony

If there’s one feature of Royal Caribbean’s next-generation cruise ship that is just starting construction, Quantum of the Seas, that is capturing people’s imagination the most, it’s likely the virtual balconies.  These 80-inch LED screens attached to a wall are promising to deliver an innovative take on the inside cabin.

Understandably, there’s a lot of intrigue regarding this new kind of cabin and people want to know what it is exactly and what to expect.  We don’t know everything quite yet, but here’s a listing of all the information on virtual balconies that we do know in one place.

What is a virtual balcony?

The virtual balconies will be 80-inch LED projection screen that stretches from floor to ceiling.  They will offer digital real-time views of the ocean and destinations visible from the ship’s exterior.

It will be displayed in high-resolution color on a giant 80-inch LED screen on the wall of an otherwise windowless stateroom.  It will work at sea and in port.

Will virtual balconies cost extra?

When they were announced, Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein said there will not be a specific surcharge for interior cabins with virtual balconies, but added that he hopes they will bring higher yields.

How many inside cabins on Quantum of the Seas will have virtual balconies?

There will be 373 inside cabins on Quantum of the Seas that will offer the virtual balcony feature.

Will any ships other than Quantum of the Seas have virtual balconies?

It’s a safe bet sister ship Anthem of the Seas will have virtual balconies along with the unnamed third Quantum-class cruise ship Royal Caribbean has on order.

In addition to those ships, Navigator of the Seas will receive virtual balconies as part of a previously planned refurbishment.  Navigator of the Seas will go for its refurbishment in December 2013. It is scheduled to sail from Galveston when the upgrades are complete.  Royal Caribbean will use Navigator of the Seas as the “testing ground” for this brand new innovation.

In addition to Navigator of the Seas, virtual balconies will be included as part of scheduled refurbishments for Voyager, Adventure and Explorer of the Seas.  Those ships are set to undergo the revitalization process in 2014-15.

Will the virtual balcony projection be on all the time?

No, you may turn the virtual balcony feature on or off at your convenience.

Where did Royal Caribbean come up with the idea for the virtual balconies?

According to Royal Caribbean Chairman Richard Fain, they got the idea from Disney Cruise Line’s virtual portholes that debuted on their ships a few years ago.

“We actually had looked at the idea, and we didn’t think that the technology and the receptivity from the public was there,” he says. Disney “proved that the public does value something like this.”

virtual balcony projection video