Texas legislators have given the go ahead to Pride Cruise Lines to operate day cruises to nowhere from the Port of Galveston, by revising a state law prohibiting casino gambling aboard cruise ships not calling in foreign ports. As of September 1, ships will be able to operate casino concessions once they are in foreign waters, which takes roughly 40 minutes. Pride's exclusive five-year contract with Galveston goes into effect in January 1990.
Pride's Senior Vice President of Marketing, Rick Carter, was reluctant to reveal any details regarding the negotiations until all plans are finalized, but he did reveal that Pride is set to buy a ship smaller than their 16,848-ton, 586-passenger Pride of Mississippi, and if all goes well, the ship will be in operating by January.
According to Mike Shingleton, Cruise Terminal Promotion Manager, the future Pride of Texas will operate daily to nowhere and monthly to Cancun, Mexico, from Pier 21, the site of a new port and retail complex. This joint effort between the port and developer George Mitchell from Mitchell Energies, is expected to be completed by 1991 and will occupy Piers 19 - 21; the complex will house a cruise terminal and ticket offices for Pride, as well as restaurants, galleries and boutiques. Further down at Pier 25, a $2.2 million project is underway for remodeling the 26,000 sq. ft. cruise terminal. Funded by the port, completion will be no later than March 1990. With these new developments, Shingleton revealed that cruise lines have been approaching the port for possible new itineraries to Mexico and the Caribbean, including Princess, Sun Line and Bermuda Star Line.
Cruise consultants Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan performed a nearly $500,000, 300-page market study for Galveston's day cruise potential; and according to sources at the port, the study revealed Galveston had such a lucrative potential market, that PBS&J acquired a percentage of the operations.
Sources at the port expected day cruises to attract more than 336,000 more visitors in the first year to the 32 mile x 7 mile island, and first year impact was estimated at $67,200,000. Houston, which is only a forty minute drive to Galveston and whose current population is 3,232,000 figured prominently in that total.
Galveston, whose population is only 60,000, is accessible to the mainland by two bridges, and a ferry; the island received approximately 6 million visitors in 1988.