Texas Lawmakers Debate Possibility of Capitalizing on Cruise Ship Industry

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Texas lawmakers in Corpus Christi met on Monday to discuss whether or not they can capitalize on the expanding cruise ship market in the state. A joint committee heard testimonies from local government leaders and port officials from four Texas counties, all of whom agreed that the state should find a place for cruise ships to dock so the city can claim a stake in the cruise industry.

Corpus Christi, as well as another Texas city, Brownsville, are in the process of taking the necessary steps to become ready to receive cruise ships. The Port of Corpus Christi already has a terminal — the Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Center — that was created with the intention of docking cruise ships, but the Harbor Bridge is too low for many of the newer, larger ships to clear. In addition, the Ortiz Center would require new customs enforcement areas and several upgrades to accommodate passengers, luggage storage and other matters. The Port of Brownsville has a basin deep enough to turn a cruise ship, but it currently does not have a terminal.

However, lawmakers in the city are not ready to give up. John LaRue, Port of Corpus Christi executive director, said the ports will bring in funds in taxes for the cities as well as will create jobs for residents. He also added that the port could charge anywhere from $3 to $10 per passenger plus a docking fee to the vessels, which will bring in extra funds.

“Generally speaking, cruise ships bring benefits to ports through job generation,” said LaRue. “They are labor intensive — stevedores — it’s cargo, passengers.”

While there are certainly enough people in both Corpus Christi and Brownsville to attract to the cruise industry, past studies have shown that cruise lines are not likely to choose cities in South Texas to have their ships dock at. With Miami as the number one cruise ship port, it will not be easy for Texas to compete with the already established cruise ship market and demand for cruises in Florida.

With a growing interest in the cruise industry, Corpus Christi officials should be focusing on the costs associated with participating in the cruise market. While many believe cruise vacations are all fun and games, the reality is that cruise ships are breeding grounds for accidents. Several passengers and crewmembers are injured or become ill while onboard a cruise ship and it is usually the fault of the cruise line itself. Cruise accidents may come back to haunt port operators, which Corpus Christi may not fully grasp.

While the matter of whether a cruise terminal will be established or not is on the table for now, as legislators debate the cruise industry, countless passengers are currently out at sea, being placed in harm’s way. If you or someone you know was one of the many cruise ship passengers who have become ill while onboard a vessel, injured while onboard, or who have experienced a cruise line crime, including cruise ship rape, assault or robbery, turn to a maritime lawyer from our firm immediately to file a case.

The attorneys at our firm have over 165 years of combined experience in representing the needs of passengers and crew who have been injured in an accident at sea. We will help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering. For more information on what you can do to protect your rights as a victim of a cruise injury, contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.