Opening of Galveston’s long-awaited third cruise terminal might be more than three years away.
In a 6-1 vote Tuesday, the Wharves Board of Trustees amended its lease with Royal Caribbean Cruises to allow the company another year to fully commit to building a $100 million terminal at Pier 10 and the Port of Galveston’s east end.
The port’s previous agreement, which was approved in December, required Royal Caribbean to commit to building the terminal by April 10.
In the time since that agreement was signed, the world and the cruise industry was rocked by the coronavirus. Worldwide shutdowns of cruise travel, which have no clear end in sight, prompted Royal Caribbean to cancel all of its capital projects and to ask the port for an extension on its agreement to build the terminal.
Port officials said Royal Caribbean remains committed to building the new terminal, which it sees as a way to expand cruise business in the western Gulf of Mexico.
The amended contract gives Royal Caribbean until April 9, 2021, to fully commit to building the terminal. It sets a goal of completing the terminal by September 2022 and requires the terminal to be completed by July 2023.
The port’s original lease with Royal Caribbean required the terminal to be completed by November 2021.
The extension allows the port to continue using Pier 10 for cargo over the next year instead of preparing the site for construction, port Executive Director Rodger Rees said.
Wharves Board Trustee Ted O’Rourke was the only vote against the amendment.
O’Rourke hoped the delay in construction would have allowed the port and Royal Caribbean to explore changing its plans to move the new terminal to Pier 18 and allow Del Monte Foods, another port tenant, to consider moving to Pier 10, he said.
“The reason I voted against it is because I think the port staff should go to Royal and look at some options that might work better to not only get business but preserve the cargo we have,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke said his proposal was an idea and that he didn’t know if Del Monte is interested in moving to Pier 10.