The Galveston Wharves and cruise company MSC Cruises are negotiating the development of a fourth cruise terminal at the Port of Galveston. The entities signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) on December 7 outlining parameters of a potential agreement for the development and operation of a terminal at piers 16-18.
Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director and CEO, said, “We’re excited about the huge potential of this mutually beneficial public-private partnership. Adding MSC to our family of cruise lines would offer our cruise guests an elegant, European-style cruise experience. It would elevate our status as a top U.S. cruise homeport, boost the regional economy and allow MSC to reach a new market of millions of cruise passengers in the Central U.S.”
Rubén A. Rodríguez, President, MSC Cruises USA, said, “The prospect of developing a new homeport in Galveston is exciting because it represents a big step in our ongoing North American expansion. Bringing our modern, glamorous ships to Texas would provide even more access and opportunities for guests and travel advisors to experience the future of cruising with MSC Cruises and our unique European style. We look forward to productive discussions with the Galveston Wharves as we chart MSC’s future in the U.S. market.”
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, privately held MSC Cruises is the world’s third largest and fastest-growing cruise brand.
The Port of Galveston is the fourth most popular cruise homeport in the U.S., hosting more than 1 million cruise passengers a year.
Rees said, “Our popularity as a cruise homeport is reflected in the growth of our passenger counts and sailings. In 2023 we forecast a record 362 sailings, the highest in the port’s 22 years as a cruise port. This is great news for the port and our region because our cruise business is a major revenue and jobs generator.”
The negotiations follow the opening of the port’s third new cruise terminal in November. The $125 million, state-of-the-art terminal at Pier 10 was developed through a public-private partnership.
The local impact of the port’s 2022 cruise activity includes 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, $177 million in revenues, and $21 million in local purchases.
Rees added that a fourth cruise terminal is included in the port’s 20-Year Strategic Master Plan, designed to guide major capital and maintenance projects to maximize assets; optimize the port’s cruise, cargo, commercial and lay business sectors; and boost the regional economy with jobs and revenues.