Back in the day, you could only get to Galveston by way of a boat. But at the end of the 1960’s, the city’s tourism industry shifted, with cruise lines opening up ocean-borne terminals on the coast. The ships sailed to the city to disembark passengers, and then set sail again to another destination. While most people, including myself, would be content with the convenience, the cruise business was struggling. So Royal Caribbean ordered that a new terminal be built on the Houston Ship Channel.
Royal Caribbean has broken ground on a project that will turn the shuttered Galveston railroad terminal into a cruise ship terminal. If all goes well, the new terminal should be ready in about two years.
After years of speculation, the iconic Galveston Seawall Terminal is now a reality. The terminal, which is located in Galveston, Texas, is a long-awaited addition to the port that has been in the works for over a decade.
The comeback of the cruise industry continues: Royal Caribbean has driven the first pile for a new $110 million terminal in the Port of Galveston. This news comes after more than a year of delays and fears that the project would never be implemented.
It’s finally starting, says Albert Shannon, chairman of the Galveston Marina Board of Directors. After all the preparations, all the negotiations, the pandemic and everything else, it has finally begun.
The terminal, designed for Royal Caribbean’s massive Oasis-class ships, seemed at one point to fall victim to a global pandemic.
Royal Caribbean and the Port of Galveston have announced plans to build a third terminal in 2018. In December 2019, reports surfaced that Royal Caribbean was close to signing a long-term contract with the port.
READ MORE: CDC revises cruise ship warning to target unvaccinated passengers.
But then COVID-19 came along and the deal was delayed by a year. Royal Caribbean requested and received a 12-month extension to the inspection period for the new terminal. Meanwhile, the company was able to get out from under the contract. But despite a $5.8 billion loss by 2020, the cruise giant apparently still sees value in the Texas project.
50 million people live within a 12 hour drive of Galveston
Roger Reece, president and CEO of the Port of Galveston, says the fact that 50 million Americans live within a 12-hour drive of the port makes it very attractive to Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines.
This construction project is part of Royal’s future because we are a huge market for them, Reece said during a recent webinar on port infrastructure modernization. He added that Royal Caribbean executives had told him that of the 20 or so capital-intensive projects planned before the pandemic, the company had suspended all but two – a new terminal in Galveston and a major new facility in Freeport, Bahamas.
READ MORE: Another first Royal Caribbean ship sets sail from Nassau
The terminal is built on a 10-acre site, most of which is covered with concrete. Before construction can begin, acres of pavement must be demolished and removed. The project is estimated to create approximately 400 construction jobs.
The two-story terminal will be approximately 150,000 square feet. Several conceptual drawings of the new terminal have been released, but Royal Caribbean has yet to announce the final design of the building. According to port officials, the latest design envisions a building with a large blue-painted rotunda and a covered check-in area for passengers.
With this extension, Royal Caribbean has until 2023 to complete the project. But the new facilities should be ready for the 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas, which will sail from its Texas port to the western Caribbean beginning in November 2022.The Port of Galveston finally has a new terminal to serve international cruise ships. The $110 Million Galveston Cruise Terminal will serve both cruise lines offering shorter sailings, like Carnival and Norwegian, as well as longer-range cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Disney, and others. The terminal will also service local cruise ships using the port, as well as smaller tugboats. The new facility will be located between the existing cruise ships terminal and the existing cruise ship berths.. Read more about carnival cruise and let us know what you think.
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