Numbers Keep Proving Our Port Region is Best
Happy 2024 to everyone! I hope you all had a great time over the holidays and were able to recharge for the year ahead. I had an awesome time with the family as we took some time off and traveled overseas. During our adventures, I was able to see the Barcelona Maritime Museum, and it is a fascinating cultural institution located in the heart of Barcelona, Spain. Housed in the historic Drassanes Reials de Barcelona, which served as a shipyard during the medieval period, the museum offers a unique insight into the city's rich maritime history. Visitors can explore a wide range of exhibits that showcase the evolution of Barcelona's maritime trade, naval architecture, and seafaring traditions. It made me excited to think of the plans for our own Maritime Museum! Right now, the Houston Maritime Center & Museum is hosting lectures and Maritime Mondays while they await their new home at Midway's East River. They have leased over 6000 sq. ft. for a museum focused on the history of the city’s nautical past and our future. Once opened, it will be a great venue to educate and engage our community as well as globally, in the maritime world.
Keeping in mind both museums, I cannot help but think of the immense global significance of the international reach and influence of Houston-Galveston ports. We know that our ports serve as a vital gateway for trade and commerce, connecting the United States with various countries across the world. Its strategic location along the Gulf of Mexico allows for efficient transportation of goods and facilitates the movement of cargo between land and sea. With its extensive network of shipping lines and connections to major global markets, our port facilitates the import and export of a wide range of goods, including petroleum products, chemicals, and other consumer goods. Our state-of-the-art port facilities (including our cruise ship terminals) and infrastructure ensure smooth operations and efficient handling of cargo and passengers, making it a preferred choice for businesses and industries worldwide.
Moreover, the ports of Houston-Galveston play a crucial role in supporting job creation and fostering economic opportunities. In January, the Port Bureau expanded our educational sessions, and conducted a Port 201 session to discuss the Port of Galveston and the cruise ship industry in-depth. The port's continuous growth and expansion initiatives further enhance its international importance, attracting investments and promoting economic prosperity. We currently have three terminals with five cruise lines: Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Princess, and Norwegian. In addition, the Switzerland-based MSC Cruises, announced they would move a single ship, the 4,560-passenger MSC Seascape, from Miami to Galveston in November 2025 to operate seven-night voyages to the Western Caribbean. This will add thousands of additional passengers per year to our already highly commercial cruise operations. In 2023, the Port of Galveston saw a 42% cruise passenger growth as compared to 2022, as they welcomed 1.49 million passengers and set a record of 354 cruise ship sailings. The forecast for 2024 is bright, as they are looking to have about 1,750,000 passengers, breaking all records! Keep in mind that we are currently #4 in the nation and #10 in the world, so I’m confident that our ranking will improve in the years to come.
Looking at the growth, it is important to know what kind of impact this will have to our region. Each cruise call requires roughly 100 longshoremen to handle stores and deliveries, 75-100 shore staff and 80-90 security personnel. This is a great boost to our economy, not counting the number of passengers that travel the day before or day after their cruise and stay in our area enjoying our amazing cities. These tourists not only contribute to the revenue of the port but also stimulate the local businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, and shops, creating job opportunities and generating income for the community. Additionally, the cruise ship industry generates employment opportunities for the local workforce, further enhancing the economic stability in our area. With its strategic location and economic significance, the Port of Galveston's cruise ship business plays a crucial role in promoting tourism and driving economic prosperity in the region. I keep saying it, we are the best, and we have the numbers to prove it!
About the Author
CAPT Eric Carrero, USCG (Ret.), joined the Greater Houston Port Bureau as president on July 1, 2023. He has 26 years of service in the U.S. Coast Guard, with experience in international affairs, port and vessel operations, and serving in the Sector Houston-Galveston from 2013-2021. CAPT Carrero holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree in environmental management and policy from the American Public University System.