Galveston Wharves finalises fourth cruise terminal with MSC

2024-02-13T21:06:58+00:00 February 13th, 2024|Ports|

The Galveston Wharves, the US cruise home port, and MSC Cruises, have finalised an operating agreement for a fourth cruise terminal complex at the Port of Galveston.

‘MSC Seascape’ will homeport at the new terminal starting in November, 2025.

The port will develop the $100 mill cruise terminal, $42 mill parking garage, internal roadway and other improvements at Pier 16 beginning early this year.

The estimated $142 mill project will be funded with port cash reserves and revenue bonds. An existing cargo warehouse will be converted into a 165,000 sq ft cruise terminal.

Under the 20-year agreement, which includes four 5-year extension options, MSC will have a set cruise schedule beginning in late 2025 when the terminal opens. The port is also allowed to negotiate with other cruise lines to use the terminal based on availability.

Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves Port Director and CEO (pictured), said, “We’re excited about this mutually beneficial public-private partnership. Adding MSC to our family of cruise lines offers our cruise guests an elegant, European-style family cruise experience. It also elevates our status as a top US cruise home port and moves us up to the eighth largest cruise port in the global market, while paving the way for MSC to reach millions of cruise passengers in the Central US.”

Rubén Rodríguez, President of MSC Cruises USA, added, “We want to give more guests the opportunity to experience MSC Cruises’ unique European flavour, and bringing ‘MSC Seascape’ to Galveston allows us to be more accessible to millions of people in the central part of the country.

“A great cruise starts with a top-notch terminal, and we’re excited to partner with the Galveston Wharves to ensure our guests enjoy the experience from end to end. We think it’s important to support the communities we serve and look forward to working with leaders in Galveston to make this project a reality,” he said.

MSC Cruises is the world’s third largest cruise brand, with much of its growth focused on the North American market. Galveston will become the line’s fourth homeport in the region upon completion of the terminal project.

‘MSC Seascape’, which was delivered in 2022, is the latest in MSC Cruises’ ‘Seaside’ class of ships, which were designed specifically for Caribbean cruising and feature enlarged and enhanced outdoor spaces. She can accommodate 5,632 pax and 1,648 crew members.

Galveston is the fourth most popular US cruise homeport, hosting 1.49 mill cruise passengers in 2023, a 43% increase over 2022.

Rees added; “That MSC chose Galveston as its newest homeport is a tribute to our strong and growing cruise market. Our popularity is reflected in the growth of our passenger counts and sailings.

“In 2024, we have berth reservations for 388 sailings with the potential for more than 1.6 mill cruise passengers. This will exceed records set in 2023. This is great news for the port and our region because our cruise business is a major revenue and jobs generator, which boosts regional and state economies.”

The local impact of the port’s 2022 cruise activity included 3,500 jobs, $568 mill in local business revenue, and $73.5 mill in local purchases by passengers and crew. The fourth cruise terminal is forecast to generate an additional 925 jobs and $177 mill in local business revenue annually.

Rees added that, according to the port’s 2019 board-approved 20-Year Strategic Master Plan, a 4th cruise terminal was not anticipated to be needed until 2031.

“We’re able to begin this new project now because Del Monte Fresh Produce Co, a long-standing cargo tenant, has outgrown its facilities in Galveston.

“We are happy to see that Del Monte was able to relocate 30 miles to the south in Freeport, thus retaining its regional economic impact. We leveraged this opportunity based on the unprecedented popularity of the cruise industry and our optimal location in the central part of the US,” Rees explained.