With a strong port-of-call cruise business, Port Canaveral is finding that it will need to get creative in how it accommodates the incoming ships.
So the port is looking into using cargo terminals to do double duty in also hosting cruise ships on occasion — specifically the port-of-call ships that make stops at Port Canaveral, but are not based here.
The move is necessitated by the demolition of one of Port Canaveral's smaller terminals, Cruise Terminal 3, east of the Cove area on the south side of the port.
A much-larger cruise terminal will take that terminal's place. But construction of the new terminal will not be completed until late 2019 at the earliest. The Cruise Terminal 3 project has a budget of $150 million. It will include a 188,000-square-foot terminal with a 1,800-vehicle parking garage.
“With Cruise Terminal 3 offline for construction, there will be more than one occasion in 2019 when we will have more cruise ships scheduled to arrive in Port Canaveral than we have cruise terminals," Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray said. "Our challenge will be to balance the demand for berth space with availability, including using one of our cargo berths to accommodate an arriving cruise ship.”
Port Canaveral is an attractive port-of-call stop for cruise lines because of its proximity to the Orlando-area theme parks, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Cocoa Beach and ecotourism venues.
For the local tourism industry, attractions, restaurants and retailers all benefit from cruise ship port-of-call visits.
Brevard County Tourist Development Council Chairman Puneet "PK" Kapur said Port Canaveral is one of the biggest drivers of tourism on the Space Coast.
"The business increase at the port is affecting the whole county," said Kapur, who is general manager of the 84-room Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Palm Bay. "I'm really happy with all the things going on at the port. It's tremendous."
Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Eric Garvey said Port Canaveral "offers a great passenger experience," while providing "a big impact" on the local economy and the community in general.
In a presentation to port commissioners on ongoing capital projects, Bill Crowe, the port's senior director of facilities, construction and engineering, said the pier at North Cargo Berth 8 is being extended by 120 feet, in part, so it also can handle midsized cruise ships.
"Cruise business is very strong, and, as you can see, we're starting to look at our cargo docks as locations to tie these port-of-call ships," Crowe said.
The pier extension also will enable North Cargo Berth 8 to handle larger cargo ships.
The pier extension is part of a larger North Cargo Berth 8 construction project that also includes bulkhead construction and 5 acres of paving work. Nearly half of the $19.62 million project is being funded by a total of $9.42 million in grants from the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Program and the Florida Department of Transportation.
Crowe said port officials also plan to meet with representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to seek permission to extend the North Cargo Berth 8 by another 180 feet, which would allow the pier to accommodate large cruise ships, such as Royal Caribbean's "Quantum-class" Anthem of the Seas. That ship — which made 19 port-of-call visits to Port Canaveral in the first eight months of the current budget year — has a capacity of 4,180 based on double-occupancy and 4,905 based on full occupancy.
Port Canaveral is the world's second-busiest cruise port, in terms of passenger volume, behind the Port of Miami.
Carnival, Disney, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean all have a presence there, with both home-ported ships and ships that make port-of-call stops. Several other cruise lines also occasionally have ships that make port-of-call stops at Port Canaveral.
By Dave Berman, Florida Today
Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
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