New Orleans' loss
Shifting waters: Galveston's new monster cruise ships are tilting the vacationrace toward Texas
Talk about an upgrade.
The last Carnival Cruise I took was on the now-retired Holiday, and I had to drive to Mobile, Ala. for the pleasure. (The ship was circa 1985 and definitely on its last legs when I was a passenger last March — we got an extra day because the coast guard didn't think she could handle some rough waters and dock on schedule).
But a brand new Carnival Cruise ship is almost in our backyard. Although Houston's ill-advised cruise terminal still stands empty, beginning in November 2011 the Carnival Magic will be sailing out of Galveston for seven-day Caribbean cruises.
The deal is somewhat of a coup — Carnival usually selects homeports in Florida.
The enormous ship — it weighs 130,000 tons and carries 3,690 passengers — is expected to help boost the number of passengers coming through Galveston's port by 28 percent. Carnival Triumph, which holds 2,758 passengers, is also moving from New Orleans to Galveston to operate year-round running four and five-day Caribbean cruises that will also start in 2011.
Between the two ships, Carnival expects to carry more than 450,000 passengers each year from Galveston. And Galveston is committed to investing more than $8 million to accommodate the new behemoths — though it sounds like a drop in the bucket compared to what they may bring in to the recovering city.
The Cruise Line International Association reported $1.1 billion in direct purchases related to the cruise business in Texas in 2008 — and Galveston's got the only operating cruise terminal in the state.