Port expansion

A cruise ship is docked at Cruise Terminal 2 in Galveston on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. The port wants to add a new terminal for more cruise ships.

It was no surprise that a recent industry study found the cruise ship trade was creating healthy economic benefit for Galveston.

Even Galveston’s Park Board of Trustees, which has cautioned against staking everything on cruise ships, has produced studies that found the same.

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com

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(3) comments

Charlotte O'rourke

Galveston should be proud of its accomplishments in attracting the cruise business because its competing against a state (Florida) that has the most extensive direct state funding for port infrastructure projects.

Ports are huge economic engines but they are also capital intense entities, and require direct funding sources besides net operating revenues. Our port does not receive tax support nor does it receive HOT funds.

Galveston should NOT be proud of its failure to keep and grow its other maritime interests. It is unbelievably bad policy to focus on only one type of a port business with ever increasing revenues from that one source. Forcing long term customers to go elsewhere instead of helping to improve ROI and diversified job opportunities is very disappointing and over the long-term, very bad for Galveston.

It’s important that Galveston plan and invest in its future on the west end of the port, and get rail and vehicular traffic bridges to Pelican Island in addition to improving our cruise opportunities.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Charlotte is absolutely correct in her warning about the failure of this Port to expand their focus on a diversity of port customers. I would suggest Port officials spend some time observing the Port of Mobile, which boasts substantial general cargo docks and warehousing, container docks, Ro-Ro ship docks, multiple liquid bulk cargo terminals, as well as bulk grain, coal, and wood chip facilities. They have three major shipyards ( including a new construction Yard that is the largest employer in the metropolitan area) and two smaller shipyards as well. They also have a modern cruise ship terminal and, while they have less cruise ships than Galveston, they do include cruise ships in the mix of a very diverse port that serves as many of the maritime industries as possible. No one branch of their maritime business can strike them a major blow if it shifts its vessels and business to a rival port.

Wayne Holt

I very much agree with Charlotte and Miceal above. What we are doing by putting so many eggs in the cruising basket is creating an economic monoculture. Much like in agriculture, that is a great way to maximize profit when market conditions are favorable and a wonderful way to go out of business when conditions change and you have no alternatives to carry you through.

Cruising is clearly discretionary spending and a pastime that I think would be bypassed for more affordable pleasures if the economy falters. Cargo, warehousing and the mixed use model Miceal mentions sounds to me like an analog to a balanced portfolio in retirement funds. You might not make the big killing that extreme concentration potentially offers, but you won't be figuring out how to get out with your scalp in place if the bet goes south.

Cruise traffic may be lower hanging fruit now but there is nothing written on stone tablets to guarantee that revenue stream will continue the same pattern of growth. 2008 should have been enough of a lesson to us: financial events that were statistically modeled with once in 500-year probabilities happened several times a week. Let's not find out the flaws in the Cruising is King model when things change, as they inevitably do in life.

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