Port Canaveral, already one of the powerhouse cruise ports worldwide, recently said it will be adding a new terminal in the next year capable of handling “the largest cruise ships currently sailing, as well as the 6,000-passenger vessels in design.”
That phrase brought to mind the only ships capable of carrying 6,000 passengers: The Oasis-class vessels of Royal Caribbean International.
The pair make their home at Port Everglades, about 175 miles to the south. But a third copy is being built for delivery in 2016. Could one of the trio make its home at Port Canaveral?
Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., isn’t tipping his hand quite yet. He says too much can be made of the “6,000-passenger reference.”
At a recent dinner aboard the Vision of the Seas, Fain said the same reference was made when the new Kai Tak passenger terminal was opened in Hong Kong harbor last year.
”Oasis has sort of become the standard when they say they’re capable of dealing with the largest ships being built,” Fain said. “So you shouldn’t read too much into that.”
The 185,000 square foot terminal at Port Canaveral will be the first modern one on the south side of the port’s ship channel. It will be adjacent to the port’s newly opened Exploration Tower, as well as the shops and restaurants on that side of the port.
“Cruise visitors will be able to walk outside the terminal to enjoy port destination options or depart from the terminal and Exploration Tower to enjoy area excursions,” said John Walsh, the port's director.
Announcements regarding tenants for the new $85 million terminal, which comes with its own 1,000-space parking garage, are expected soon, Walsh added.
There is another possibility, or two. One is that the new terminal could be for Anthem of the Seas, the sister ship to Quantum of the Seas, and a class somewhat smaller than Oasis. Royal is expected to announce the home port and itineraries for the Anthem as soon as this week. Although speculation currently centers on Southampton, England, the Canaveral terminal is slated to open next November, in time for the spring 2015 debut of the Anthem.
Also, Disney Cruise Line is putting three of its four ships in Port Canaveral to start 2015. Disney already has a dedicated terminal at Port Canaveral, but with the Magic Kingdom only an hour away, Disney has unique needs in central Florida. Carnival Cruise Lines is also at Port Canaveral with several ships.
One way or another, Port Canaveral is on the march. It should be interesting to watch where it is going.