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Why the Galveston/Houston Cruise Scene Is Likely to Keep Booming

In the 1990s, there wasn’t a single cruise departing Galveston. Today, four different lines call the port home. And by the end of 2014 the Bayport Terminal in Houston will become home to another two lines.

Even with that boom in business, the Galveston and Houston cruise scene is likely to continue growing for years to come. In fact, it’s a wonder it took this long for the area to become a cruise haven.

The Houston metropolitan area is home to roughly six million people. Add in everyone within a five-hour drive (about the point where people consider flying instead of driving), and you have an audience of more than 20 million people. Don’t forget that more people are moving to the area every day. That’s an enormous market to tap.

Combine that with the rise in airport hassles — rising airfares, intrusive pat-downs, baggage fees, and lengthy delays — and it’s easy to see why more pleasure travelers are opting to take a cruise instead of dealing airports. And that trend is likely to only become stronger.

Meanwhile, America’s population continues to age. Cruise ships offer a perfect vacation for older travelers. The ability to see different cities and countries on a single trip, without having to pack, change hotels, or take even more flights, can’t be understated for aging travelers. That’s likely to lead to even more of them cruising instead of more traditional vacations.

And the Houston/Galveston area is well-placed to meet that rise in demand. With the addition of the Bayport Cruise Terminal, the region now has two ports within an easy drive of Houston to accommodate oceanliners. While the Port of Galveston has two spaces to berth a ship, compared to Bayport’s one,  both ports have plenty of room to expand if needed.

Finally, port expansion isn’t even needed yet, so it doesn’t even pose a problem. If cruise lines wanted to expand their offerings, they could do so easily given the current schedule.

Only Carnival offers year-round sailings from Galveston right now. All the other lines only offer only seasonal sailings — leaving during the summer months before returning for the fall. Adding more departures during the summer could double the number of cruises from the area, without breaking a sweat.

There’s no guarantee that the industry will continue booming in Galveston/Houston. That said, all signs point toward growth for years to come.

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