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Port Canaveral ExpansionSeptember 3, 2012 By: Susan Young Travel Agent
|Port Canaveral’s new $65 million Cruise Terminal 6 will officially open on September 13.|
Cruisers sailing on Carnival Cruise Lines from Port Canaveral are now using a new $65 million cruise terminal. Carnival Ecstasy was the first ship to dock at the new 90,000- square-foot Cruise Terminal 6 in mid-August and the terminal’s official grand opening is planned for September 13.
Spanning two levels, the sleek facility’s electronic ticketing lobby is capable of processing 2,400 passengers at one time. The atrium has a 1,100-seat passenger waiting area including 300 seats on the mezzanine level. Clients are guided through the terminal via electronic signage. The terminal also has a 30,000-square-foot baggage handling area.
One thing that is really important for a cruise terminal design is close proximity for taxis to drop off guests and the ability for drive-market guests to park close to the terminal, says Terry Thornton, Carnival’s senior vice president of revenue management and deployment. He says the new terminal satisfies both requirements. A new three-level 750-car parking garage was built adjacent to the terminal. The garage also has a unique ground floor retail area, which will serve passengers, crew and port employees.
Carnival is Port Canaveral’s largest cruise operator; it home ports three ships at the central Florida port, favored for its easy access to the Space Coast and Orlando attractions. In addition, Carnival has two vessels that call at the port regularly. In totally, Carnival is expected to bring more than 600,000 passengers through Port Canaveral this year.
What cruise ships will utilize the new Cruise Terminal 6? Carnival Ecstasy operates three- and four-night cruises; it previously sailed from Cruise Terminal 3. In addition, Carnival Sensation, which previously sailed from Cruise Terminal 5, and Carnival Dream, which sailed from Cruise Terminal 10, also are moving to the new facility; those vessels operate four- and seven-night cruises, respectively.
Port-of call-vessels moving to Cruise Terminal 6 include Carnival Pride, sailing from Baltimore, as well as Carnival Miracle sailing from New York. In spring 2013, Carnival Splendor will replace Carnival Miracle on that route.
While the plan is for Carnival’s ship to use Cruise Terminal 6 whenever possible, “on the few days we conflict with ourselves [too many ships in port at the same time], we will continue to use Terminal 5,” says Thornton. The new terminal is adjacent to Terminal 5; the two share a corner and parking lot.
In addition, Norwegian Cruise Line will utilize Terminal 6 for port calls in central Florida by its Norwegian Breakaway; that massive ship will begin service in fall 2013, sailing through spring 2014 from New York to Florida and the Bahamas. Stan Payne, CEO of Port Canaveral, explains that when the dock was under construction, plans were adjusted so that the port could accommodate the biggest ships in the world. So the port is ready for Norwegian Breakaway and other mammoth vessels at Terminal 6.
Both Thornton and Payne say the facility was built from the ground up by the port and cruise line to be one of the most efficient in the world. “It was built with passengers in mind,” stresses Payne, noting that “the spacious terminal is nothing less than stunning when you see the use of audio visual aids.”
Thornton stressed the efficiency of the terminal’s “two-way” operations, allowing separation between baggage handling and embarkation, so both operate simultaneously. That’s particularly helpful if a ship is late in returning to port due to bad weather.
Payne said two high-tech mobile loading bridges installed at Cruise Terminal 6 are similar to one bridge the port now uses at the Disney Cruise Line terminal but the new terminal has two of them. The loading bridges can move up and down the dock geographically and adjust in height as needed. “They’re certainly among the most sophisticated,” Payne notes.
Port Canaveral has completed and is working on other projects to keep cruise lines coming back and bringing new ships. It recently enlarged its West Turning Basin, a $7.8 million project that now allows even the largest cruise ships to turn around.
|Norwegian Breakaway will use Terminal 6 for port calls in Central Florida.|
Construction has also begun on the first phase of a $25 million expansion of “Canaveral Cove” on the port’s south side. A major component is a new 22,000-square foot Welcome Center. The seven-story building will attract cruisers, land vacationers and local residents alike, says Payne. Opening in summer 2013, the facility will feature an observation deck, exhibits, event space, auditorium, gift shop and café.
Payne says the last major cruise terminal project at Port Canaveral, the third busiest port in the world for cruise passenger traffic, was completed in 2010. That project expanded Cruise Terminal 8 and constructed a new parking garage to accommodate Disney’s larger Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.
As the Cruise Terminal 6 project draws to a close, Thornton says of Port Canaveral: “They were very open to our input. They do what they say they are going to do, they do it on time and they do it well.”