Galveston Wharves is to develop a fourth cruise terminal complex at the Port of Galveston after finalising an operating agreement with MSC Cruises.
The port will develop a $100 million cruise terminal, converting an existing cargo warehouse. It will also construct a $42 million parking garage and internal roadway at Pier 16, with work beginning in early 2024. The estimated $142 million project will be funded with port cash reserves and revenue bonds.
“We’re able to begin this new project now because Del Monte Fresh Produce, a long-standing cargo tenant, has outgrown its facilities in Galveston,” said Rodger Rees, port director and CEO of Galveston Wharves. “We leveraged this opportunity based on the unprecedented popularity of the cruise industry and our optimal location in the central part of the United States.”
The 20-year operating agreement will see MSC have a set cruise schedule from late 2025 when the terminal opens. The deal also includes four five-year extension options, and Galveston can also negotiate with other cruise lines to use the terminal based on availability.
Galveston will become MSC Cruises fourth home port in North America upon completion of the terminal, with MSC Seascape set to sail from the port starting in November 2025.
“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,” said Rubén A. Rodríguez, president of MSC Cruises USA. “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.”
Galveston Wharves forecasts that a fourth cruise terminal will generate an additional 925 jobs and $177 million in local business revenue annually. The city of Galveston will also benefit directly from passenger fees and sales tax revenue from cruise parking. Galveston is the fourth most popular homeport in the USA, hosting 1.49 million cruise passengers in 2023.
“That MSC chose Galveston as its newest homeport is a tribute to our strong and growing cruise market,” said Rees. “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 million 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.”