Could Galveston be the homeport to one of these ships in the future? Only time will tell, but for now it is interesting and fun imagining what Galveston might need to change to accommodate one of these ships. What would Galveston's cruise terminal area look like with an Oasis Class ship docked?
I. The Pier Must Be Able To Accommodate The Ship
The Oasis of the Seas is long (approximately 1,186 ft. in length), while the Liberty of the Seas is approximately 1,125 ft. long. Based on these figure's from each ship's fact sheets, the pier in Galveston would need to be able to accommodate a ship 61 feet longer than Liberty of the Seas in order to fit a ship the size of the Oasis of the Seas. Sixty one feet doesn't seem to be too much longer and some work could probably be done to Cruise Terminal 2's pier in the future to accommodate this ship's length.
II. Traffic Problems On Harborside Drive Would Be A Little Worse Than They Already Are
An increase in passengers would bring an increase in traffic at the port when a ship is docked. More cars would be looking for a place to park and drop off/pick up lines could be longer. Galveston's Harborside Drive is already a busy place when cruise ships are in because all of the cars, parking lot buses, and airport shuttles. Imagine the traffic nightmare during peak embarkation times, if there is an Oasis Class ship docked in Galveston and one of Carnival's Dream class ships docked at the same time. If this scenario were ever a possibility, Galveston would need to look for ways to alleviate traffic on Harborside Drive.
The Oasis of the Seas carries 5,400 guests double occupancy and the Liberty of the Seas carries 3,634 guests double occupancy, according to each ship's respective fact sheets. Remember, double occupancy only represents each room being filled at 2 guests. Many staterooms can often accommodate 3 or 4 guests. However, the double occupancy capacity difference between these ships is 1766 passengers. To put this into perspective, lets say there are 4 cruise passengers per car. This would add approximately 442 cars to the road that would need parking spaces. Congestion on Harborside Drive would increase significantly as well as competition for available parking spots.
III. Parking Lots Rejoice! More People Increases Demand For Parking, And Potential To Earn More Revenue
Cruise parking lots currently appear to be highly utilized in Galveston because Carnival has 3 ships, Royal Caribbean has one ship, and Disney sails some years seasonally. These ships are coming in at least once per week and each time one cruise ends a new set of guests need to be parked. Passengers that are dropped off or shuttled from the airport, of course, wouldn't need to park. However, all of the passengers that drive to their cruise would need a place to park, which would likely increase demand for parking spots.
More people needing a place to park would help cruise parking lots fill their spaces. A vacant parking space doesn't earn money and I am sure parking lot owners would be happy to have their parking spots filled to capacity.
The Port of Galveston has its own parking lots and there are many independent privately owned parking lots near the cruise terminals. Most of them vary in parking price and number of available parking spots. As a whole, I wonder if Galveston (the port and independent lots combined) could handle an increase in passenger capacity. Are there enough spots for everyone? My guess is if ship capacity increases in Galveston someone would open a new lot or some current parking lots would be revamped to increase parking capacity.
IV. The Channel and Depth
I don't know the length or depth of the waterway around Galveston's port or cruise terminals, but I do know that the water must be deep enough to accommodate any ship needing to sail through it. I tried finding detailed information about Galveston's waterway depths, but I was not successful in finding this information. Galveston's port would need to be deep enough for an Oasis Class ship to dock and there would need to be an area wide enough for the ship to have room to turn around. Currently, the Navigator of the Seas and Carnival Magic typically turn around before arriving at their designated terminal in Galveston. These ships appear too large to turn in the area directly around the cruise terminal, based on my observations. When these two ships don't turn around before arriving, they typically will back out and turn around during sail-a-way.
V. More Cruisers = More Tourism
Galveston should want its cruise ship industry to grow because as more people come to the island for a cruise, these vacationers will often check out local attractions, dine in restaurants, and stay in hotels. Of course, some cruisers will only come to Galveston Island to cruise and then leave, but many people will check out the attractions Galveston has to offer. Cruise ships are often known for generating tourism dollars and if Galveston's cruise capacity increases, it is safe to say an increase in tourism revenue will follow.
Only time will tell if Galveston gets an Oasis Class ship or maybe even a Quantum Class ship. For now, I can only imagine how things would look if Galveston gets a bigger ship. As cruise ships get bigger and older smaller ships are phased out, some cruise ports will get these larger ships if their facilities can handle the size of the ship. For now, Galveston's Royal Caribbean cruisers can enjoy the Navigator of the Seas and then the Liberty of the Seas when it comes in late 2015.
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