Port Canaveral has best month ever for cruise ships as revenue surges

A record month for cruise ships brought Port Canaveral nearly $50 million in revenue in the first three months of the fiscal year.

Cruise revenue for December, including parking, came in at $19.3 million, $8.7 million over budget. The funds came from 95 ship calls, carrying nearly 700,000 passengers. This includes the two weekends before and after the holidays, close to or above 100,000.

“We spent a lot of time and a high level of coordination to make sure we had as little disruption as possible,” Port Canaveral Chief Executive Capt. John Murray said at Wednesday’s port board meeting. [the sheriff’s office] A lot of help in keeping the traffic flowing and doing their best to plan ahead. For the most part, it’s been quite successful. “

The number and size of ships at the port has been growing over the last year. It includes Royal Caribbean’s new Miracle of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, as well as Carnival’s Mardi Gras, Norwegian Prima, Disney Wish and Legend of the Mediterranean, as well as newer and larger ships that call the port home.

Since the start of the fiscal year in October, the port has seen 243 vessel calls and more than 1.7 million passengers.

Cruise accounted for $40.7 million of the $48.9 million in total operating income. In three months, cruise revenue increased by $7.6 million over the proposed budget, with additional revenue coming from more passengers than planned, while ship visits still met targets.

That compares with just 300,000 passengers in December 2021, even as cruise lines continue to ramp up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s worth noting that December 2022 does include five weekends, not four, and New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, so expect some extra revenue.

Still, the sheer number of people does reveal a shortcoming of the cruise terminal, Murray said. Cruise Terminal 10, which has paid parking, faces about 5,000 passengers leaving a cruise ship after only a two-night voyage. Because of the short flight, most people didn’t have checked luggage, so it caused a big setback.

“Everyone came to the garage at the same time,” he said. “Simple math, all four of our gates are running in the time it takes to process departures. You can’t have that many people leaving that quickly.”

It’s a headache now that the traffic flow has changed, but the port is also considering paying an admission fee for this garage.

“We have to deal with handhelds. It’s not as efficient and requires more manpower, but we do it because we can’t have people stuck in garages,” he said.

Operating expenses also decreased $1.1 million to $27.1 million due to savings in service contracts, payroll, engineering, insurance, maintenance and supplies.

Combining the additional revenue and reduced expenses, September-December operating income was $21.8 million, $9.8 million above budget.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 is expected to hit a record high of more than $154 million, with $124 million of that coming from cruise lines.