Port Canaveral has a lot to celebrate at its 65th anniversary this November. The once small manmade port, dedicated on Nov. 4, 1953, is one of Florida’s fastest growing ports with more than 4.5 million cruise ship passengers sailing from Port Canaveral and over 6 million tons of diverse cargo moving through the port in FY 2017. These numbers point to Port Canaveral as the world’s second-busiest multi-day cruise port and Florida’s third largest by operating revenues, which are expected to hit $100 million in FY 2018.
As a leading world-class gateway for cruise and cargo, the Port is experiencing historically high demand for its bulkhead space. The projected FY 2019 budget is $108 million, up from $100 million in 2018, and an increase in operating revenue of more than 150 percent since 2008-09.
And those figures are expected to grow in the future – with projected increases in multi-day passenger volume and cruise vessel calls to the Port, revenue from cruise business operations and related parking is expected to climb 10.4 percent in the coming budget year. Cargo revenue will reach $9.7 million, a 3.1 percent increase, and cargo tonnage will increase 2.7 percent.
“Port Canaveral is a 21st century economic driver for the region, generating $2.2 billion economic impact annually,” said Port CEO Captain John Murray. “As such, we have a responsibility to ensure the Port’s value is sustained as both a viable commercial entity and community resource, while keeping pace with an increasingly complex global marketplace.”
Chief among the Port’s priorities is the biggest single construction project in its history – a new $150 million Cruise Terminal 3. The 185,000 sq. ft. cruise terminal, adjacent multi-story parking garage, and related waterside and landside infrastructure improvements will accommodate Carnival Cruise Line’s newest and largest cruise ship in its fleet and the first LNG-powered cruise vessel to be based in North America.
Last month, the Port’s Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the terms of a 25- year agreement with Carnival Cruise Line, paving the way for Carnival to homeport its newest and largest ship at Port Canaveral.
“This agreement will have lasting economic benefit for both the Port and Carnival Cruise Line,” said Capt. John Murray. “We are excited, thrilled, and honored to enter this new generation of an exceptional relationship with Carnival Corporation.”
It’s no surprise that Carnival chose Port Canaveral to base its groundbreaking new class of ship – the largest ever constructed for Carnival Cruise Line at 180,000 tons and engineered with Carnival Corporation’s state-of-the-art LNG “green cruising” design platform.
“With its convenient location, excellent facilities and friendly staff, Port Canaveral is one of our most popular and fastest-growing homeports and we’re delighted to bring this exciting, one-of-a-kind ship to the Space Coast in 2020,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.
Port Canaveral is in its second phase of planning for LNG fueling operations at the Port. For more than a year, and in close collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard, cruise partners, and public safety officials the Port has worked to develop operational, regulatory and technical frameworks to ensure fuel operators and receivers properly develop LNG procedures for safe handling and storing of LNG at Port Canaveral.
Last year, Port Canaveral completed the deepening of the West Turning Basin to the authorized depth of -43 feet plus 2 feet additional over-dredge, a $7.5 million project to allow deeper draft access to the Port’s north side cargo berths.
Scheduled for completion in mid-2019, North Cargo Berth 8 (NCB8) will provide the infrastructure and capabilities to handle a growing portfolio of heavy and oversized cargo, including commercial spacecraft components. NCB8, a $17.9 million project, is designed and engineered as a multimodal/intermodal berth that will provide flexible capacity and capability to accommodate more diverse commerce at the Port.
A new Liebherr LHM 600 mobile harbor crane, soon to be the largest MHC in service in the U.S., will be in operation by early 2019 at the Port providing an 18-container reach and added capabilities to hoist oversized cargo such as booster rockets.
As Central Florida’s premier maritime gateway, great emphasis is placed on forward-looking strategic planning to guide the Port’s efforts and improvements to exceed its annual goals of facilitating commerce and tourism. By investing in the Port’s capabilities and capacity, in combination with assured financial growth and stability, Port Canaveral achieves certainty to support the needs of its stakeholders today and is well positioned to meet the demands of tomorrow.