September 30 marked the 10th anniversary of Carnival Cruise Lines sailing from the Port of Galveston. This decade of cruising brought 1,174 cruise ship calls and more than 2.7 million cruise passengers to Galveston Island.

The cruise industry contributed $1.05 billion in direct spending, and 15,541 jobs to the Texas economy in 2009 and Texas residents accounted for 11.2% of all U.S. cruise passengers, according to a report by the Cruise Lines Industry Association (CLIA).

“For the past 10 years, Carnival has enjoyed a wonderful partnership with the Port of Galveston and together we have offered outstanding vacation experiences for millions of consumers while providing a significant benefit to the local economy.  Next year, we will further increase capacity from Galveston with the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph and the new 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic. Basing these two larger vessels in Galveston speaks to our confidence in our partnership with the port and local community as a whole,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO. 

As Carnival Cruise Lines looks ahead to its next decade of service, the first priority is the arrival of two new ships to the Port of Galveston in 2011. Carnival Magic is the newest addition to the line’s fleet and will offer 7-day cruises to the Caribbean out of its homeport in Galveston starting in November of 2011. Carnival Triumph, which holds 2,758 passengers, will move from New Orleans to Galveston to run year-round, operating four and five-day Caribbean cruises starting in October 2011.

 “Galveston is so grateful for the cruising community we see throughout the year,” said Meg Winchester of the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Cruises are another chance for people to visit Galveston on a pre or post tour.”

In 2009, the Port of Galveston was the only cruise ship port in Texas and number one in the Gulf of Mexico.  The Port’s 395,000 cruise passengers spent extra time on the Island contributing to the tourism industry of Galveston, which accounts for an $800 million economic impact annually. 

“The Port is dedicated to continuing to make improvements that will keep Galveston a top cruise port and look forward to the addition of the Carnival Magic and the repositioning of the Carnival Triumph to Galveston,” said Steven M. Cernak, Port of Galveston Port Director. “Home porting both ships represents the largest-ever capacity commitment by a cruise line to Texas. These deployments are expected to carry more than 450,000 passengers annually from Galveston and further strengthens the partnership we’ve developed with Carnival Cruise Lines.”.

The Port of Galveston is Texas’ gateway for cruise sailings and international trade. The Port of Galveston serves as the primary point of embarkation for cruises to the western Caribbean and handles over 800,000 cruise passengers annually. These visits are estimated to have produced $38 million in passenger and crew onshore spending. The Port is self supporting enterprise fund with operating revenues of approximately $21 million. It does not rely on tax dollars for operations.