Cruise Terminal For Sale: No Ships But Great Fishing

For cities and towns that want to be a home port for cruise ships, it would make sense to be set up to handle them first. Ensuring that today’s giant ships can dock, that there will be shore-side services available and figuring out the logistics of it all are checklist items one might consider mandatory. But there’s a big difference between being “ready” and having a $100 million cruise terminal sitting empty with no ships scheduled to call.

That seems to be right where Houston Texas is today; all dressed up and with no place to go as the would-be cruise port can’t find cruise lines that want to sail from their bright, shiny terminal.

“I’m convinced that no cruise line is going to come. They may as well forget about using it as a cruise terminal,” Texas Judge Ed Emmett told ABCNews.

Worse yet, the losses keep growing. In the last year, the port has spent another $4.7 million just maintaining the cruise terminal. The ABCNews report notes that some of the money was spent to improve the gangways for cruise passengers that may never use them.

Perhaps Houston was a bit too ambitious?

Maybe, maybe not. Business is great at the close-by Port of Galveston; in 2010 it reported its highest gross operating revenue since 1941. Making $7.3 million off revenue of $23.5 million is a pretty fair return.

So why are there no ships sailing from Houston?

Among other reasons, it takes ships much longer to reach international waters from Houston. Ships sailing from Galveston are out of U.S. waters in minutes. Sailing from Houston takes 2 hours longer to get out of U.S. waters – where cruise ship shops and casinos can open.

Flickr photo by notsogoodphotography