Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Not One, But TWO Cruise Lines Poised to Set Sail from Port of Houston

“Build it and they will come” was beginning to look like a futile gesture on the part of the Port of Houston. Since it was completed in 2011, the state-of-the-art Bayport Cruise Terminal located in Pasadena, Texas has been idle—only being put to use in 2008 when when the Port of Galveston was heavily damaged by a hurricane. Just outside of Houston, Bayport is an enticing homeport for travelers in search of efficient and world-class services before and after their cruise. The cruise terminal’s proximity to fine restaurants and hotels make it an ideal point of disembarkation. While it’s not quite as accessible to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico as the facility in Galveston, perhaps more importantly, it is conveniently accessible to both major Houston airports. And finally, the new terminal will soon see not one, but two cruise lines call it home.

Princess Cruises will launch new service from the Port of Houston beginning in 2013 when it starts sailing from the Bayport Cruise Terminal. Princess Cruises and the Port of Houston Authority confirmed an agreement for the line to make passenger cruise calls during the 2013-2014 cruise season at the port’s cruise facility. The new service is scheduled to begin in November of 2013. A total of 26 departures are planned for the season.

The inaugural cruise is an unprecedented sailing aboard the Caribbean Princess to support U.S. veterans. The historic cruise, which will sail between Nov. 5 and Nov. 9, is expected to raise $1 million for two U.S. veterans organizations, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) and Operation Homefront.

The Port Authority’s agreement with Princess Cruises marks the first full contract with a cruise line to use the Bayport Cruise Terminal. Both Princess and the Port Authority project the cruise activity will have a significant positive impact on the economy of Harris County and the greater Houston area, including the cities of Houston and Pasadena. Smaller cities near the cruise terminal are also expected to benefit.

On the heels of the Princess agreement, Norwegian Cruise Line and the Port of Houston Authority announced that they have also reached an agreement for Norwegian to sail seasonally from Houston for three years, totaling 75 calls, with an option to extend for up to two years. Beginning in the fall of 2014, Norwegian will bring the 2,374-passenger Norwegian Jewel to Houston to sail 7-day Western Caribbean cruises. The line’s return to Houston marks the first time Norwegian has had a ship sailing from the city since Norwegian Dream in 2007.

The 96,000-square-foot Bayport Cruise Terminal combines visual appeal, passenger convenience, accessibility and innovative security systems. Passenger access from parking and drop-off areas is immediately adjacent to the front of the terminal. Covered walkways connect the building to bus and private passenger drop-offs and taxi stands. Once inside the terminal, passengers’ first-class experience continues in the expansive great area.

Economic activity from a single cruise line is expected to generate $50 million annually, according to the firm Martin Associates, including local purchases of $3.6 million. Over a four-year period, this is expected to result in a $200 million dollar economic impact to the greater Houston region. A total of 222 jobs will be touched, including the creation of almost 100 new jobs. An estimated $941,000 annually in state and local taxes is anticipated.

Image: Bayport Cruise Terminal

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