The Port of Galveston really turned some heads in 2023. Already the center of attention for hosting the arrival of Carnival’s newest ship, the Texas port’s net operating income soared 55.4% over the previous year.
Galveston Wharves, which operates the Port of Galveston, reports that its net operating income rocketed to $24.5 million in 2023, making it the most profitable in the port’s history.
Preliminary unaudited operating revenues in 2023 were $67.4 million, a 27.5% increase over the prior year. That resulted in a net operating income of $24.5 million, a 55.4% increase over the previous year.
Both figures are the highest in the history of the port, which first opened in 1825 before Texas was even part of the United States.
“Record revenues allow the port to fund major expansion and maintenance projects to maximize port assets, generating regional economic growth and more jobs,” said Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director and CEO.
Another Port of Galveston highlight in 2023 was the arrival of Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Jubilee, the newest ship in Carnival’s fleet. The cruise line’s flagship arrived in Galveston in December 2023 and began 7-night Western Caribbean cruises on December 23.
The port invested $53 million into its cruise terminal to accommodate Carnival Jubilee and help boost its profile to other cruise lines. Carnival Jubilee, the first new ship to homeport at Galveston, was voted Best New Cruise Ship of 2023 in the annual Cruise Hive Awards.
In addition, Port of Galveston accommodated 1.49 million cruise passenger embarkations in 2023, a 43.1% increase over the previous year. That record-breaking figure helped generate $1.6 million in payments to the city of Galveston, thanks to local sales taxes, passenger charges, and long-term parking fees.
In related news, the port’s Finance Department has been awarded a national certificate of excellence for the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) for fiscal year 2022.
“Without the continuing hard work and dedication of an exceptional team, it would be difficult to achieve this honor,” Rees said. “The award is testament to the port’s dedication to fiscal responsibility and sound financial management.”
It is the 30th consecutive year the port has received the honor from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA).
Galveston Wharves expects more record-breaking numbers for 2024 in terms of passengers, ships and revenues.
Numbers released in November 2023 project operating revenues of more than $70 million. Cruise passenger traffic is expected to climb 14% to 1.6 million thanks to 388 expected cruise ship calls.
Situated at the entrance to Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel, the Port of Galveston is the fourth busiest cruise port and is composed of 840 acres and serves cruise, cargo, and commercial businesses.
In 2023, it handled 3.6 million tons of cargo and was awarded $42.3 million in state money for cargo and transportation projects.
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Carnival Jubilee‘s arrival in December 2023 prompted the $53-million remodeling of Terminal 25 at Galveston. Among the upgrades are state-of-the-art gangways, new escalators, and a revamped roof. The 250,800 gross tons Carnival Jubilee is 250,800 gross tons and can accommodate 6,631 when fully booked.
Most of the world’s largest cruise lines offer departures from the Texas port, including Royal Caribbean International, Disney Cruise Line, Princess Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and MSC Cruises.
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