Cruising, Cargo, Celestial Bodies Driving Growth at Port Canaveral
By Michael A. Monahan, president, Moxē Integrated Marketing

“It’s all about cruising,” Canaveral Port Authority Commissioner Wayne Justice said at a recent Builders’ Breakfast, hosted by the Central Florida Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) July 7 at ABC’s office in Orlando.

The port, expects to generate more than $100 million in profit this year, returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Much of that growth is driven by the addition of ships, big ships, by cruise line operators such as Carnival, Disney, MSC and others.

Port Canaveral ranks at or near the top of Florida’s largest cruise ship terminals, with approximately 5 million passengers per year. Miami and Port Everglades, similarly, do about five million passengers per year.

But the big ships, Justice said, come to Port Canaveral.

“Terminal One was completed four years ago. The largest cruise ships in the world come in and tie up there,” he said.

The Carnival Mardi Gras, the Disney Wish, both powered by clean-burning liquified natural gas (LNG), are the largest vessels in their respective companies’ fleets.

“6,000 people get on, 6,000 people get off every Saturday,” he added, saying the size of the Port’s operation helps create thousands of Central Florida jobs.

In November, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, which will be the largest, newest cruise ship in the world and Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Prima, its biggest ship, will join another vessel from MSC, along with the Mardi Gras and the Wish.

The LNG systems allowed Justice to segue into other areas of the port operations, citing barge vessels coming in from places like Pascagoula, Mississippi and Elva Island in Georgia to transport millions of gallons of LNG to the Mardi Gras and the Wish.

While cruising is the flashy side of the port’s operations, cargo coming in and out of Central Florida remains vital, as well. Fuel for the aviation industry and aggregate for things like the I-4 expansion and Brightline’s rail construction ranking among the top cargo classifications, along with other materials such as salt and lumber all come in through Port Canaveral’s waters.

Finally, the growing space sector, along with both launch and retrieval activities from NASA and private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, provide added dimensions to the port’s activities.

Justice said much of the cash the port generates is reinvested in the form of capital projects, building new bridges, widening channels, working with retail partners, and even an aquarium, to keep the port competitive.

“We average $90 million a year of construction input on our port and that’s what  keeps everything going.”

(pictured above): Canaveral Port Authority Commissioner Wayne Justice speaks at ABC – Central Florida’s recent Builders’ Breakfast.