The Port of Galveston and cruise company Royal Caribbean have agreed to partner in developing an $85 million cruise terminal, the port announced Tuesday.
The two groups are set to sign a memorandum of understanding Wednesday. The agreement will set out the general terms for a long-term deal to develop and operate the new terminal, which would be the third cruise terminal for the island.
The memorandum will allow the port and the company to negotiate the final details of the agreement. The Wharves Board of Trustees, which governs the port, could vote on a final agreement as soon as January, the port said.
Port officials have been pursuing a third cruise terminal since at least 2012, arguing that a third berth would allow for larger ships to cruise from the island more frequently.
The deal with Royal Caribbean was first raised this summer. The new terminal could cost $85 million, and be open by 2021, Port Director Rodger Rees said Tuesday.
Royal Caribbean would bear the $85 million cost of building the terminal on 10 acres at Pier 10, east of the existing cruise terminals at piers 25 and 27, Rees said.
“Royal Caribbean is going to be investing in Galveston,” Rees said.
The new pier would be next to the Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and BMW vehicle processing plant, officials said.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics would move some of its operations to the west end of the port, Rees said. The BMW processing facility would remain where it is, he said.
Another 15 acres at Pier 10 would be turned into surface parking for the new cruise terminal, Rees said.
After the construction is completed, the port would be in charge of maintaining the new berth. Royal Caribbean would have an initial 20-year lease for the terminal, with options to continue it after the initial term.
The company would be able to use the site almost exclusively, unless it was needed by another ship in an emergency or if the port paid the company to allow another cruise line to use the spot, Rees said.
The Port of Galveston derives about 55 percent of its annual revenue from cruise-related activities. The port is a landlord port and generates much of its income from lease agreements with maritime tenants.
The port is home to three year-round Carnival Cruise Line ships, one year-round Royal Caribbean ship, one seasonal Royal Caribbean ship and a seasonal Disney Cruise Lines ship.
The port predicted it would earn about $37.4 million in total revenue in 2018.