More and More New Ships for Port Canaveral

MSC Seashore in Port Canaveral

Port Canaveral will have 13 homeported ships and is expecting over 8 million guests in 2024, according to Captain John Murray, CEO and port director.

“The biggest thing for us is we are an easy drive in and out,” he said. “We’re at the point now where cruise lines are bringing us their newest ships, which started with the Mardi Gras.”

This summer the Utopia of the Seas will follow from Royal Caribbean International as the cruise line puts its newest ship into the short cruise market.

Another newbuild, the Norwegian Aqua, will start regular cruises from Port Canaveral in 2025.

“New ships bring the crowds,” Murray added, noting there were only really three ports in Florida that could handle short cruises for big ships. Go elsewhere and the itineraries start to get longer.

“The prelude to the Utopia has been the Allure of the Seas, which has been going out with between 5,500 and 6,000 guests aboard and we’re not even in peak season,” said Murray in November. “We’re parking 1,300 cars per sailing.”

The MSC Seashore arrived at Port Canaveral in late 2023 for its inaugural season, while more new customers include Princess and Celebrity, plus the Disney Treasure; all three enter regular operation late this year. Port Canaveral is responding by building two new parking garages, said Murray.

“The challenge we have is space and berth utilization. If you look at berth utilization, we are using ours a lot more. We have one terminal where we will be using six days a week,” said Murray, noting the port plans to build a new megaship terminal.

“We have a need for a new terminal. if I had it today, we could come close to filling it … our goal for that is to make it a Port Canaveral terminal (and not linked solely to one cruise operator), so we control it; it gives us more flexibility if we don’t earmark it for one brand and build it for the largest ships in the world … it’s a strategic move. Berth space is at a premium.”

For 2025, the port is expecting 16 or 17 homeported ships, Murray said.

Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine Winter 2023-2024

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