Port Canaveral: Diversified Offering

Six Ships, Port Canaveral

A brand-new Terminal 3 is nearing the final stages of construction for Carnival Cruise Line at Port Canaveral, along with a 1,800-spot parking garage, all in preparation for the new Mardi Gras which will become the first LNG-fueled ship in North America.


Projections call for just under five million cruise guests in the fiscal year 2020, and over 5.6 million by 2024.


For port CEO Captain John Murray, the planning started years ago, wanting to be ready for LNG-fueled ships. The effort has paid off as Port Canaveral will host the Mardi Gras year-round and is expected to be home to Disney’s LNG-fueled ships as well.

“We are growing consistently,” Murray said. “All our cruise lines are very strong and over the next few years they plan to add additional ships.


A rendering of the new Cruise Terminal 3

“We are going to become the Florida port that can expand as the tonnage will be on the market and there won’t be as many berthing options in Florida as there have been in the past.”

Other big news at Port Canaveral includes the summer arrival of Marella Cruises in 2021, a deployment move announced late last year that had been in the works since 2017, said Robert “Bobby G” Giangrisostomi, vice president, cruise business development.

“They were looking for an American product,” he said, adding that the port’s proximity to Orlando was key.


Long term, the big homeport customers have major deals with Port Canaveral, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney, and Murray said in November he was negotiating a new deal with Norwegian.


With options, Carnival’s latest arrangement could extend to 45 years. For the port, terminal infrastructure is about building smart. “Flexible terminals,” commented Giangrisostomi. “A 1,200-foot ship can have up to 7,000 passengers. You have to be flexible. LNG ships, big ships, medium ships and Port Canaveral can handle them all.”

Deals also include more parking infrastructure, which may not be as long term.

“We have to look at what the concept of parking could be in 10 years,” Murray said, noting autonomous vehicles and an 83 per cent jump in Uber and Lyft usage at the port year-over-year.


Shorter cruises? Plan for more drive-in passengers. Estimates suggest that 40 to 60 per cent of guests embarking at Port Canaveral are drive-in customers.

“We are 200 miles closer to the entire Southeast,” explained Giangrisostomi

Another metric that is up is port-of-call business. With an expected 83 transit calls this year, that number jumps to just over 100 next year with more visits from the Oasis of the Seas sailing from Bayonne.


“Our port-of-call business is substantial,” added David German, director, cruise business development. “It’s good for the local community, with 6,000-plus passengers.”

The out-island arms race has paid dividends to all the Florida ports, Murray added. With cruise lines spending big developing their own destinations in the Bahamas, they have a reason to keep ships in nearby homeports.


New facial recognition has sped up clearing ships with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which can now happen in as little as two hours for 5,000 disembarking guests.

“They clear the ship very quickly. It helps the cruise lines get to zero counts much sooner,” Murray said.


“Being ready and out front for our cruise customers,” Murray answered when asked about how to run a cruise port successfully. “The guests are the most important part of our operation … easy in, easy off, easy on the ship, easy off the ship. We want to be number one in customer service … It boils down to the end-user.”

Seattle: Alaska Drives Demand


Quantum of the Seas in Seattle.

 While moving ahead with plans to build a third terminal, the Port of Seattle set another record last year with 1,210,000 passengers on 211 calls and is forecasting a further increase this year to 1,380,000 passengers on 225 calls.

“We are also extending our season starting as early as April 1 with the Grand Princess and closing on Oct. 19 with the Ruby Princess,” said Michael McLaughlin, director of cruise and maritime operations. “Norwegian Cruise Line will also bring a third ship, the Norwegian Sun, joining the Bliss and the Encore at Pier 66. The Sun will sail 11-day Alaska cruises.

“Next year, the new Norwegian Encore will replace the Joy,” he continued. “It is a good example of how Norwegian is keeping their newest and best products in the market.

“Also in 2021, Carnival will replace the Spirit with the larger Freedom.”

Last year marked Seattle’s 20th year as a cruise port, during which it has seen nearly 14 million passengers.

“What stands out over those two decades,” said McLaughlin, “is that even during the recession we continued to grow our market share year-over-year. There was some flattening out in Alaska when that head tax was put into place, but it had less effect on Seattle in that we had entered into berthing agreements with the brands where they needed to meet their annual guarantees. So when they decided to pull ships out of the market as a result of the taxation in Alaska, it had less effect on Seattle.

“Over the long run, the growth trend has been really positive.”

Having released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new terminal last summer, the port has announced three groups that were shortlisted. They were the so-called Cruise Industry Leaders Group, with Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Carnival Corporation and SSA Marine, a Seattle-based stevedoring company; Global Ports Holding and Miami-based Civil & Building North America; and Ports America, teaming up with Jacobs Engineering Group, headquartered in Dallas.

With the goal of having the new terminal ready for the 2023 season, it means Seattle will have three cruise terminals and four berths: Terminal 46 with one berth; the Bell Street Terminal at Pier 66 with one berth, and the Smith Cove Terminal at Pier 91 with two berths.

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.