Port of Galveston officials Thursday estimated revenue losses related to Hurricane Harvey totaled about $698,000, but were confident a business interruption insurance claim would recoup much of that.
The losses came because of five cruise ships, one Del Monte Fresh Produce shipment and a container shipment were canceled because of Hurricane Harvey, interim Port Director Peter Simons said.
The port depends heavily on revenues from cruise ships, generated mostly from passenger fees and parking on port-owned lots.
Most of the port’s other revenues are generated by fees for wharfage and dockage.
Wharfage revenue is generated by fees imposed on cargo passing over the docks and dockage revenue is collected from ships docked at the port.
The U.S. Coast Guard on Aug. 25 closed the island port to all traffic in anticipation of high winds and rain from Hurricane Harvey.
Harvey made landfall Aug. 25 in Rockport, about 200 miles south of Galveston County, but in the 72 or so hours that followed, it dumped more than 50 inches of rain in some parts of the county, swelling creeks and bayous and flooding an estimated 20,000 homes.
Port officials Monday estimated 27,000 fewer cruise passengers visited because of the storm.
The Coast Guard’s decision to close the port forced cruise ships carrying about 20,000 passengers to remain at sea an extra six days and led cruise lines to cancel a weekend’s planned itineraries.
The Port of Galveston is home to four full-time cruise ships and all of them remained at sea for days longer than expected.
Some of the passengers aboard the ships stuck at sea disembarked in Miami and New Orleans, when the ships stopped there temporarily to restock and refuel.
The port is the fourth-busiest cruise port in the United States. Its 2017 fiscal year budget reflects the expectation that about 62 percent of the port’s revenues will be cruise-related.
The lost cruise-ship revenues totaled about $680,000, Simons said. Unfortunately, they weren’t the only hit the port took, he said.
Each cruise generates about $65,000 in parking and passenger fees for the landlord port, former Port Director Michael Mierzwa said in a 2016 interview after propulsion problems with the Carnival Liberty caused several cruises to be modified.
With the additional losses in cargo shipments, the port lost $716,000 in revenues, but did manage to create savings in other areas, Simons said.
“There were some avoidable costs,” Simons said. “When we didn’t have two ships in that Saturday and Sunday, we didn’t hire shuttle operators, for instance.”
Port officials estimate they saved about $80,000 with normal operations slowed, but took on an extra $64,000 because of additional security needs once the delayed cruise ships arrived at the port, Simons said.
The losses were significant, considering the port projects revenues for the 2017 fiscal year of $38.6 million and operating expenses of $24.1 million.
But port officials are hopeful a business interruption claim will mitigate much of the damage, Simons said.
“The deductible with our insurance is $100,000,” Simons said. “So, we’re filing about a $597,000 claim. There are still a couple of costs that still need to be fleshed out.”