Our maritime lawyers know that the cruise industry is in constant competition. Ports rival each other for tourism and while Florida has always been the top contender, Texas may soon be giving the Sunshine State a run for its money.
A Houston cruise terminal has been empty for nearly five years, but that is soon about to change. The city is working on a revival project to bring the port back to life and give Texas two ports – an advantage the state hasn’t had since 2007. Beginning next year, travel agents and potential cruise passengers will be able to choose between departing from Houston or Galveston. Galveston is already growing in popularity, hosting popular vessels from Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and Disney Cruise Lines. The addition of another port may improve the state’s appeal as a cruise ship home port even more. Houston will be gaining a Princess Cruises ship in late 2013 and a Norwegian Cruise Line vessel in 2014.
The $100 million Bayport Cruise Terminal, which is technically located in the city of Pasadena, has been used primarily for hurricane emergency response and for cargo ship dockage since its completion in 2008 and city officials are excited that it will finally be used for its true calling.
“We’re tickled that it’s going to be used for its intended purpose,” said Houston Port Director Len Waterworth, adding that the market for cruise travel in Texas is constantly growing.
“You know if you get one, and the market continues to grow, you may end up attracting others,” he said.
Texas has yet to catch up to Florida’s appeal for cruise ports, but it is certainly making a strong effort. Last year, 1.1 million Texas residents went on a cruise vacation, a number which is expected to grow this year. The state is also an important medial point for cruisers located in the mid-South and for West Coast residents who may opt for a Caribbean itinerary without flying to Florida.
However, even if Houston gains new ships, it is not going to be easy to top Miami in popularity for cruise vacations. Beth Leonhardt, a Houston agent affiliated with Avoya Travel/American Express, said, “I think it’s wonderful they’re bringing more ships… [But] it doesn’t look like Miami.”
Only time will tell what the future of the cruise industry holds for Houston, but in the meantime, it is important for all potential travelers to exercise caution when sailing from a new port. Seafarers may not be completely used to new rules and regulations and mechanical failure can occur – not to mention chaos with two ships competing for terminal access. Our maritime lawyers are here to offer assistance to anyone who is injured at port or onboard and are available for confidential consultations.
Call our firm if you or a loved one have already suffered in injury related to a cruise ship vacation. Our attorneys will work diligently to protect your rights and help you obtain compensation for your pain and suffering.
PHOTO CREDIT: www.bizjournals.com