Norfolk VA is a major port city in southeastern Virginia (USA). It borders to the west Elizabeth River and to the north - Chesapeake Bay (Atlantic Ocean). The city has population around 250,000 (metro 1,67 million), ranking it the Virginia state's second-largest - after Virginia Beach (around 450,000 / metro 1,72 million). The cities Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News and Hampton form together Hampton Roads Metro area featuring one of the world's largest natural harbours.
As an exclusive Carnival cruise port, Norfolk’s main competitors are the homeports Baltimore MD and Charleston SC (also Carnival-exclusive departure port in the USA). Currently, port's cruise business generates ~USD 153 million annually (in direct spending by cruise companies and passengers/crew), ~USD 170 million in Virginia state wages and supports ~2800 local jobs.
Norfolk is an "independent city" (not part of any US county) and borders with two of the state's independent cities - Chesapeake (south) and Virginia Beach (east). Norfolk is considered Hampton Roads region's historic, cultural and financial centre. It is also a major US military seaport, having the world's largest shipbuilding and shiprepair yard, Here are based US Marine, US Navy's Atlantic Fleet, USCG (Coast Guard), Armed Forces Staff College, Langley Air Force Base (astronaut training centre).
Popular among tourists neighbouring leisure and travel destinations are Virginia Beach. Williamsburg and Jamestown. The city is at less than 2 hours drive distance from Richmond, 3 hours from Northern Virginia and 3 hours from Raleigh. The cruise port benefits greatly from the Norfolk International Airport offering 200 flights daily. The airport is just 15-20 min taxi drive from the cruise terminal. Other popular city attractions are the Chrysler Museum and Mariners Museum (with USA's largest mariner artifacts collection - maps, ship models, watercraft, paintings, scrimshaw/bone or ivory engravings and carvings).
The town was established in 1682 and its early growth was based on West Indies trade and shipping of products from the North Carolina's and Virginia's plantations. However, virtually all buildings (except St Paul's Church) were destroyed during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). The city was rebuilt after the war and became an important maritime and shipbuilding centre. Its military growth started during WW1 (1914-1918).
As port of call (on transit cruise itineraries), port's business expands each year. Among the large cruise shipping companies visiting Norfolk VA are AIDA, TUI, Princess, plus several luxury lines with smaller vessels (like Silversea, RSSC-Regent, Oceania).
Currently, Carnival Cruise Line is the only company that homeports a ship here (Carnival Sunshine in 2017). Among the port's newly added amenities are Wi-Fi (throughout the waterfront area) and new bike lanes (cycle lanes) throughout the city.
Port Norfolk VA is located in Hampton Roads Harbor, along rivers Elizabeth and Lafayette, The port is managed by Virginia Port Authority and covers an area of 2,3 km2 (567 acres), of which 131 acres (0,5 km2) are for container storage.
Norfolk International Terminals is Virginia’s largest cargo facility served by Super Post-Panamax gantry cranes (rail-mounted), The terminal has 6 berths and total quay length/berthing of 2020 m (6630 ft) and max draft 15 m (50 ft). This allows docking of large container ships/boxships with max capacity 14,000 TEU-containers. Port's current annual capacity is around 1,43 million TEUs. It also offers 719 plugs for reefers (refrigerated containers). Norfolk's container terminal is divided into 3 sections - South (4 berths, area size 272 acres / 1,1 km2), North (2 berths, area 245 acres / 1 km2), and Central (50 acres / 0,2 km2).
The seaport has direct rail access to Heartland Corridor (railway serving freight trains) and is also connected to North Carolina Highway 42. The port is adjacent to highways 64 and 564, and via Terminal Blvd to Hampton Blvd (Norfolk City), with additional access to roads 17 and 58.
In November 2016, Port Norfolk and Konecranes (Finnish crane manufacturer) signed a USD 217 million contract for building and delivering 86 rail-mounted gantry cranes. The US company TMEIC is the supplier of cranes' drive and control systems.
In July 2018, a heavy-load vessel delivered at Norfolk Terminals the first 6 rail-mounted gantry cranes - part of USD 375 million port expansion project. By mid-2020 will be delivered a total of 60 new gantry cranes. The project will expand terminal's annual capacity by 400,000 TEUs (up to 1,83 million).
In early-2019 started construction works on the USD 375 million port expansion project at NIT (Norfolk International Terminals) resulting in increased annual capacity by 400,000 TEUs. By this 3-phases project (scheduled completion in 2020) port's south stack container yard was completely redesigned and fitted with 60 new RMGs (rail-mounted gantry cranes), 10 new shuttle trucks, a total of 30 new RMG TEU stacks.
In August 2019, to the Chesapeake VA-based company Cottrell Contracting (1928-founded) was awarded a USD 10,4 million contract for dredging Norfolk Harbor's Inner Channel. The works started in December with scheduled completion in May 2020, and include pumping of ~840,000 m3 (29,7 million ft3) of sediment from the shipping channel and transporting it to Portsmouth VA's Craney Island. Such dredging works are conducted by the US Army Corps of Engineers (federal agency) and in Norfolk Harbor Channel are required every 12-15 months.
In February 2020, CCL-Carnival signed a 5-year agreement with Norfolk City for seasonal homeporting at Half Moone Cruise Center (2020 through 2025). The deal was signed by Kenneth Alexander (Norfolk City Mayor) and Terry Thornton (Carnival’s Senior VP of Nautical and Port Operations). As part of the agreement, Norfolk City agreed to upgrade and expand the Half Moone terminal for handling larger ships and to expedite the traffic by installing a PBB (Passenger Boarding Bridge).
In 2021, Norfolk VA homeports its ever-largest cruise liner - Carnival Magic - for a series of 12 roundtrips and estimated seasonal capacity ~50,000 tourists. The ship's 2021 schedule from Norfolk offers roundtrips to the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda.
Norfolk cruise terminal
Cruise ships in Port Norfolk VA dock at Half Moone Cruise Terminal (officially "Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center", aka "Decker Half Moone Center"). This modern facility (construction cost USD 36 million) was inaugurated in 2007. It is located in downtown Norfolk, on the city's Nauticus waterfront on Elizabeth River. The terminal is also close to Norfolk Airport (travel time approx 15 min by taxi).
The cruise ship terminal has its own parking area (day rates USD 15) and provides shuttle bus service to and from the terminal.The facility is sized 80,000 ft2 (7,430 m2 / 1,8 acres). It is adjacent to the Nauticus (maritime-themed museum and science center) and the museum ship USS Wisconsin (Iowa-class battleship launched in 1943). Throughout the year, the waterfront's Town Point Park area hosts popular festivals and various public events.
As the size of homeported here cruise liners constantly grow, the seaport considers a development project to expand terminal's berth to allow docking of world's largest passenger vessels.
Port Norfolk cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Norfolk, Virginia. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
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