The entities signed a non-binding MoU (memorandum of understanding) on December 7th outlining the parametres of a potential agreement for the development/operation of a terminal at piers 16-18.
Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director & CEO, said they were excited about the huge potential of the mutually beneficial public-private partnership. Adding MSC to their family of cruise lines would offer their cruise guests an elegant, European-style cruise experience. It would elevate their status as "a top U.S. cruise homeport, boost the regional economy and allow MSC to reach a new market of millions of cruise passengers in the Central U.S.”
According to Ruben A. Rodriguez, President, MSC Cruises USA, the prospect of developing a new homeport in Galveston was exciting because it represented a big step in their ongoing North American expansion.
"Bringing our modern, glamorous ships to Texas would provide even more access and opportunities for guests and travel advisors to experience the future of cruising with MSC Cruises and our unique European style. We look forward to productive discussions with the Galveston Wharves as we chart MSC’s future in the U.S. market.”
MSC Cruises is the 3rd largest and fastest-growing cruise brand in the world. Headquartered in Geneva (Switzerland), the privately held company employs a staff of 30,000+ globally. It is the market leader in Europe, South America, Southern Africa, and the Persian Gulf region as well as with a strong presence in the Caribbean, Far East, and North American markets.
The Port of Galveston is the 4th most popular cruise homeport in the United States, hosting 1+ million cruise passengers per year.
Rees added their popularity as a cruise homeport was reflected in the growth of their passenger counts and sailings. In 2023 they forecasted "a record 362 sailings, the highest in the port’s 22 years as a cruise port."
The local impact of the 2022 cruise activity of the port includes 3,500 jobs, US$568 million in local business revenue, and US$73.5 million in local purchases by cruise passengers and crew members. A 4th cruise terminal is forecast to generate an additional 925 jobs, US$177 million in revenues, and US$21 million in local purchases.
According to Rees, a 4th cruise terminal is included in the 20-Year Strategic Master Plan of the port, "designed to guide major capital and maintenance projects to maximize assets; optimize the port’s cruise, cargo, commercial and lay business sectors; and boost the regional economy with jobs and revenues."
The negotiations follow the opening of the cruise port’s 3rd new terminal in November. The US$125 million, state-of-the-art terminal at Pier 10 was created through a public-private partnership.