PORT CANAVERAL -- Port Canaveral posted a 67% cruise passenger
increase from January to June this year compared with the same time
period last year, according to Malcolm "Mac" McLouth, the port's
The port, which attracted 3.5 million cruise ship passengers for
the year ending June 30, handles the "largest three- and four-day
cruise market in the world," McLouth said.
Port Canaveral posted a 59% increase in passengers in 1999
compared with 1998, making it the second-busiest cruise port in
Florida after Miami.
The other leading Florida ports, in passenger volume ranking,
are: Port Everglades, Palm Beach, Key West, Tampa and Manatee,
according to the Florida Ports Council.
Port Canaveral still has dock space to handle additional cruise
lines, and the port could be expanded to meet the needs of larger
ships, McLouth said.
Preliminary design work is under way on Cruise Terminal 6-7, a
$50 million project that, when completed, would be able to handle
the largest ships.
"We've got to be sure we can fill Terminal 6-7 before we build
it," McLouth said.
McLouth predicted that at least one ship will be added as a
tenant by the end of 2001.
The passenger increase at Port Canaveral is attributed in part
to the launch of the Disney Magic in mid-1998 and the Disney Wonder
The 2,400-passenger ships became the largest to sail out of the
port at that time.
The Disney ships were joined in May by Royal Caribbean's
2,800-passenger Sovereign of the Seas.
McLouth said one likely area of expansion was for Disney to add
a third ship.
A Disney spokesman said the company has no plans for a third
ship now but is focusing on the new seven-night cruises to the
Caribbean on the Disney Magic that began on Aug. 12.
Royal Caribbean's three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas
on the Sovereign of the Seas exceeded expectations during its first
month of operations by drawing more than 2,700 passengers per
cruise, McLouth said.
Royal Caribbean may bring one of its planned Voyager-class ships
to Port Canaveral to replace or join the Sovereign of the Seas, he
McLouth said a major reason for the port's success is its
proximity to Walt Disney World.
"We have a special niche in the market because of our closeness
to Orlando and its 40 million-plus visitors a year. So if you can
attract only a small percentage of that, that's our market," he
The port appeals mostly to domestic travelers, many of whom
drive here from elsewhere in Florida.
"Domestic [visitor traffic] makes up maybe 98% of our market.
We're not a huge foreign market," he said.