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Company For World's Top Cruise Ports

Miami…Fort Lauderdale…Port Rashid…

Notice the apparent disconnect?

Well, not so fast.

The acknowledged kinds of cruise ports are  Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Proven to send more than eight million people off on their favorite cruise ships every year. Gateways to the Caribbean, primarily, and that’s still where most people go on their first cruise. Also their second, third, fourth…

Port Rashid?

That’s the new, world-class cruise port in Dubai. It opened on Friday. It is the largest cruise terminal in the world, and there’s a lot of that kind of thing happening in the Port Rashidoil-rich United Arab Emirates, probably for decades now. It’s capable of handling 14,000 passengers every day. Joining two older terminals at the port, it’s capable of handling more than seven million passengers every year.

That’s almost Miami and Fort Lauderdale combined.

Granted, it’s still speculation…and this is the Middle East.

Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) was Porthole Cruise Magazine’s “Best Domestic Port” and “World’s Top Cruise Port” in 2013. It was home to nine cruise lines, 43 cruise ships and several times broke daily records for number of passengers processed.

Is there a challenger on the horizon?

Today at portsandbows.com: Amber Cove…coming in 2015

Crown Princess
3 nights
January 3, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $149
Cost per day: $49

Quick disembarkation billion-dollar answer?


In June, two Royal Caribbean ships will be the first to dock at a $1 billion terminal (that's right, one BILLION) in Hong Kong.

The new structure is called the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, and the ships will be Mariner of the Seas (June 12) and Voyager of the Seas (October 15). One hour after the Voyager leaves, the Diamond Princess will arrive and by the end of the year Celebrity's Millennium will also have visited Kai Tak.

But here's what is most interesting about the state-of-the-art terminal:

It can process 3,000 passengers an hour!

That means every passenger could leave most of today's cruise ships an hour after the gangplank goes down. Having recently move 25 feet in 60 minutes at the terminal in Galveston after leaving the Crown Princess, we think this is exciting news that hopefully will spread throughout the cruise terminal world.

There is one problem.

How many people an hour will be processed at customs?

Norwegian Pride of America
7 nights
May 18, 2013
Honolulu (return): Kahului, Hilo, Kona, Nawilili
Inside: $1,549
Cost per day: $221

Houston: Return of the Ships

A white elephant turned green last week. The much-maligned, little-used cruise port terminal in Houston is going to get busy. More importantly, it's going to get cruise ships that will make it busy.

For three years, the state-of-the-art terminal has been empty. When something costs more than a $100 million and it's empty, this is not good business. Nor is it good for the public coffers that paid for it. Why this has suddenly happened with not just one but two cruise lines is a mystery…did Houston sweeten the pot for them?

The first cruise line to sail under the new arrangement will be Princess. The inaugural sailing from the Bayport Terminal in nearby Pasadena will take place in 2013…the Caribbean Princess on November 5. This first "cruise for a cause" by Princess, a fund-raiser for veterans, was originally reported to be departing from Galveston. Instead, it will be the first of 27 Princess departures from Houston in the 2013-14 season.

Then Norwegian steps up to the plate.

Beginning late in 2014, Norwegian is committed to 75 departures over three years. The cruise line also has an option to extend the agreement for two  years beyond the contract.

Coincidentally or not, the port celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2014.

According to Norwegian, the 96,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility "combines visual appeal, passenger convenience, accessibility and innovative security systems. Passenger access from parking and drop-off areas is immediately adjacent to the front of the terminal. Covered walkways connect the building to bus and private passenger drop-offs and taxi stands. Once inside the terminal, passengers’ first-class experience continues in the expansive area. The cruise terminal’s proximity to fine restaurants and hotels make it an ideal point of disembarkation."

The ship based from Houston will be the Jewel, the first Norwegian ship based there since the Norwegian Dream in 2007. The Jewel will sail 7-day trips to the Western Caribbean.

The financial facts being reported included the creation of 100 new jobs, economic benefits of $50 million and state and local taxes of $941,000.

Considering this is a $108.5 million nut, it's a good start.

Meanwhile, down the freeway, the cruise honeymoon is over. Galveston has company again.

Sapphire Princess
7 nights
January 12, 2013
Los Angeles (return): Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85


If you’ve ever received one of those emails with a series of photos detailing the opulence of Dubai (aka, where our gas profits have gone), as we have, then the thought of going there on a cruise probably isn’t as far-fetched as it was.
Costa Cruise Lines has two ships in the area, and Royal Caribbean re-positioned its Brilliance to be there in time for the opening of the new terminal at Port Rashid. As of January this year, the terminal has been able to accommodate four ships at once – no tendering here, at least not yet – and passenger arrivals this year are expected to exceed 300,000.
It’s a long haul for those of us on this side of the water, so most of the visitors will come from Europe and areas more geographically accessible. However, 20 years ago, who would have considered flying from the U.S. to the U.A.E. (United Arab Emirates), nonstop from New York?
That’s it, we’re done.

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