New things are happening at Port Canaveral that involve more than just taking a cruise. These days, Port Canaveral is becoming one of Central Florida’s fastest growing economic drivers. With proposed new construction projects set to expand the port both physically and economically, more jobs are on the horizon for the area.
“Our goal is to attract and create long term business partnerships with world class cargo and logistics firms and to attract import and export oriented top quality and job producing firms to the region that rely upon strong logistics and transportation systems”, said John E. Walsh, Port Canaveral CEO.
Growth in cargo activity, supported by new infrastructure, rail links, and a container terminal as well as independent distribution centers could create 5,000 new jobs annually within the next five years, according to the 2012 Port Canaveral Economic Impact Study by Martin and Associates.
“These are high wage jobs in stevedoring, trucking, logistics, robotics, IT systems, RF systems, automation technology, equipment operations, mechanics, system and equipment technicians, forklift operators, CBP officers, security, managers, clerical and more”, said Walsh.
It’s amazing what the Port has become considering this major deep water point of entry for Central Florida, ultimately was constructed for military and commercial purposes and dedicated back in 1953. The first industry was commercial fishing. Later came the expansion of Cargo vessels carrying oil and newsprint, tanker vessels which began carrying central Florida’s orange juice from here to New York in 1958, and by 1966, I million tons of cargo moved through the port. The port also began playing its important role in America’s space program. With the nation’s premier launch facility at its doorstep, the Port became – and remains today – a critical link in receiving, tracking and retrieving space vehicles and components. Later, the expansion of the attractions in Central Florida gave way to the cruise industry. The first homeported cruise ship set sail in 1982.
“I believe we can redefine our future now and as new space efforts unfold and develop, other new industries can grow from this port into our industrial parks, main streets and flow into all of the Central Florida regions,” said Walsh.
Future Projects are set to stimulate growth.
Tracks to make the direct connection between Port cargo docks and Florida East Coast Railway must cross neighboring federally owned land. In February, the project was proposed in official testimony at a Congressional House Oversight and Government Reform Committee field hearing and was received positively. The Port is in discussions with NASA planners to explore rail connections through their land.
Cruise Terminal 4:
The port will also benefit residents even if they don’t board a ship. Cruise Terminal 4 demolition began in early March in preparation for construction of the new East Boat Ramp complex near Jetty Park, a replacement for the former public boat ramp at Freddie Patrick Park. Once complete, the new facility will offer guests picnic pavilions, restrooms, a boat rinse-down area, fish-cleaning tables and a total of 8 boat slips to replace the 6 slips that formerly were available. The project is on track for a late June completion.
Two cruise lines that currently use Port Canaveral have stepped up their commitments. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), which currently has no homeported ships or long-term port-of-call commitments, has agreed to base a cruise ship in Central Florida in the winter of 2015. The cruise line has also committed to continuing port visits by two of its New York-based ships, 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway and 2,400-passenger Norwegian Gem, for at least the next three years. Royal Caribbean International (RCI) currently has two homeported ships with a third joining the fleet in November for 26 scheduled voyages. The company recently agreed to a 10-year contract that will more than double the guaranteed annual revenue to the Port during the next decade. This contract may pave the way for RCI to homeport one of its largest ships here. Royal Caribbean will pay an additional $48 million during the next decade to reserve preferred scheduling at new Cruise Terminal 1. The Port will use the money to help fund construction of the $68.5 million terminal complex.
The key to increasing the cruising industry will be to bring larger vessels to Port Canaveral. Phase 1 of the dredging project started back in March to widen the three-and-one-half-mile channel by 100 feet, expanding the current width to 500 feet overall and deepening the entrance to 46 feet and eventually 55 feet to accommodate larger vessels. New Cruise Terminal 1 Scheduled for November Completion When complete, the new Cruise Terminal 1 complex adjacent to The Cove is expected to bring a $500 million annual economic impact to the region and create about 3,000 jobs. Plans for the new facility were completed in February. Occupation is expected in November of this year.