In another vote of confidence for the recovery of the cruise industry, the Port of Galveston hosted a groundbreaking ceremony over the weekend to mark the start of construction on Royal Caribbean International’s new $125 million cruise terminal.
Terminal 3 will be the future home of Allure of the Seas, which will offer seven-night western Caribbean itineraries from the Texas port beginning in November 2022.
“This new cruise terminal is a game-changer,” said Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director and CEO. “This much-anticipated project will bring 800 new jobs, $1.4 billion in local business services revenue, $5.6 million in state and local taxes, and incredible business development opportunities.”
The port — the fourth busiest for cruise ships in the U.S. — is already an important one for Royal Caribbean International. It is currently home to Independence of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas, the two largest cruise ships homeported at Texas’ only cruise port.
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Port authorities signed a long-term contract with Royal Caribbean for the new facility in December 2019. Through a public-private partnership, Royal Caribbean will build the terminal, then lease it from the port for 20 years with an additional four 10-year options.
The 161,300-square-foot terminal will be set on 10 acres in the easternmost area of the port on Galveston Island. The port will also build and operate an 1,800-space cruise parking lot at the terminal.
“We are excited to celebrate this special milestone for our new state-of-the-art terminal, which will have a stunning, bold architectural design and technological advancements that will significantly enhance the experience for our guests,” said Joshua Carroll, vice president, Destination Development, Royal Caribbean.
Plans for the facility include the use of state-of-the-art technology, including mobile check-in and facial recognition to speed guests through the arrival process. The terminal will be designed and developed to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental) certification standards.
The groundbreaking ceremony featured remarks by industry leaders, U.S. Congressman Randy Weber, Texas Rep. Mayes Middleton, City of Galveston Mayor Dr. Craig Brown, and City Councilmember Marie Robb.
Cleanup of the site — including the removal of vast amounts of concrete — began a couple of months ago, and the ceremony was held to coincide with the departure of Independence of the Seas as the first Royal Caribbean cruise ship to sail from Galveston since March 2020.
Construction is scheduled to be completed by November 2022. Allure of the Seas will take up residence there on November 13, 2022.
The year 2022 will mark 20 years for Royal Caribbean International in Galveston. The partnership began with the inaugural sailing of Rhapsody of the Seas in 2002.