Port of Galveston, Royal Caribbean inks deal for cruise terminal
The Port of Galveston, the fourth busiest cruise port in North America, formally announced that it has signed a long-term contract with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) for a new $100 million cruise terminal. Through the public-private partnership, RCL will build the terminal, then lease it from the port for the initial term of 20 years with four, 10-year options.
The new terminal will cover approximately 170,000 square feet on ten acres of land in the southeast section of the Port known as Pier 10. The facility, which is anticipated to open in fall 2021, will feature state-of-the-art technology to enable mobile check-in and facial recognition to create an expedited arrival experience for guests. The terminal will be designed and developed sustainably to meet LEED certification standards.
Improvements to the pier bulkhead and apron will be made to safely accommodate the cruise line’s largest vessels. In addition, a staging and loading area, bus and taxi staging areas and substantial parking will be constructed. Construction for the new facility is expected to begin in April 2020.
The port will be responsible for items including maintenance, parking, and improvements to the dock so that it can accommodate the larger vessels. RCL will contribute to the cost of improving the docks.
“This is history in the making. This partnership will bring both larger class ships as well as more visitors to the City of Galveston and the region,” said Port Director/CEO Rodger Rees. “This long-term lease agreement represents Royal Caribbean’s confidence in the Port of Galveston’s efficient cruise operations and the ability to attract passengers on its current and future sailings. Galveston is on course for being a global destination for cruising and we are thankful for partners like Royal Caribbean.”
The port began its successful partnership with RCL in 2002 with the inaugural sailing of Rhapsody of the Seas. Currently, the port is home to Enchantment of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the state of Texas. In November 2021, the newly completed terminal will welcome one of the largest cruise ships in the world, Allure of the Seas. Following her $165 million amplification, Allure will pump up the adventure with the addition of the Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea that touts a 10-story plunge; The Perfect Storm, a thrilling trio of multistory waterslides; and an array of culinary possibilities with more restaurants, including the introduction of Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar and returning favorites Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade and El Loco Fresh; and more. Allure will sail 7-night Caribbean itineraries from Galveston and will be the biggest and boldest ship sailing form the Lone Star state.
“We are excited to partner with the Port of Galveston to develop a world-class facility which will allow us to sail our newest, largest and most innovative ships from Texas starting with Allure of the Seas, one of the largest ships in the world,” Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “The new terminal will allow us to bring over a million guests to the region driving a significant economic impact in the years to come.”
As the Port of Galveston’s cruise industry grows, so does its local and state economic impact. According to a national report, Galveston’s cruise business grew by 13 percent in 2018, resulting in $1.5 billion in cruise industry direct expenditures and 26,241 jobs with total wages of $1.75 billion in Texas.