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GALVESTON, TX (Feb. 6, 2024) – The Galveston Wharves, a major U.S. cruise home port, and MSC Cruises, a leading international cruise company, have finalized an operating agreement for a fourth cruise terminal complex at the Port of Galveston. MSC Seascape will homeport at the new terminal beginning in November 2025.
The port will develop the $100 million cruise terminal, $42 million parking garage, internal roadway and other improvements at Pier 16 beginning in early 2024. The estimated $142 million project will be funded with port cash reserves and revenue bonds. The port will convert an existing cargo warehouse into the 165,000-square-foot 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 also can negotiate with other cruise lines to use the terminal based on availability.
Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director and CEO, 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 U.S. 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 U.S.”
Rubén A. Rodríguez, President of MSC Cruises USA, said, “We want to give more guests the opportunity to experience MSC Cruises’ unique European flavor, 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.”
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 home port in the region upon completion of the terminal project. MSC Seascape, which launched 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. It can accommodate 5,632 passengers and 1,648 crew members.
The Port of Galveston is the fourth most popular cruise home port in the U.S., hosting 1.49 million cruise passengers in 2023, a 43 percent increase over 2022.
Rees said, “That MSC chose Galveston as its newest home port 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 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.”
Regional Economic Benefits
The local impact of the port’s 2022 cruise activity included 3,500 jobs, $568 million in local business revenue, and $73.5 million in local purchases by passengers and crew. A fourth cruise terminal is forecast to generate an additional 925 jobs and $177 million in local business revenue annually.
The city of Galveston will benefit directly with passenger fees and sales tax revenues from cruise parking.
Rees added that, according to the port’s 2019 board-approved 20-Year Strategic Master Plan, the fourth 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 United States,” Rees said.
About the Galveston Wharves at the Port of Galveston
Located at the entrance to Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel, the Port of Galveston has been a thriving maritime commercial center since 1825. Just 45 minutes from open seas, the 840-acre port has infrastructure and assets to serve growing cruise, cargo and commercial businesses.
The port is the fourth most popular cruise home port in the U.S. The port also leases and maintains a wide range of cargo facilities on the deep-water Galveston Harbor, which is ranked among the top 50 busiest U.S. cargo waterways. The Galveston Wharves is a self-sustaining city entity whose mission is to generate and reinvest port revenues to benefit the Galveston community with economic growth, jobs and sales tax revenues.
About MSC Cruises
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, MSC Cruises is the world’s third largest cruise line and the market leader in Europe, South America, the Gulf region and Southern Africa, with a strong and growing presence in North America and the Far East.
The MSC Cruises fleet consists of 22 modern ships with three new vessels due to be launched in 2025, 2026, and 2027.
The Company operates in more than 100 countries around the world, offering cruises across five continents, calling at more than 300 destinations and welcoming more than 180 different nationalities on board.
MSC Cruises is firmly committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions for its marine operations by 2050.
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Galveston Wharves: Kathy Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
MSC Cruises: email@example.com