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Cruise ship could give area $70M economic boost

By Amanda Casanova
The Daily News
Published April 7, 2011


GALVESTON - The addition of cruise ship Disney Magic to the island's port could produce a regional economic impact of about $70 million, Port Director Steve Cernak said Wednesday after Disney Cruise Line officially announced the ship would be coming to Galveston in 2012.

Following speculation earlier in the week about the family friendly cruise liner anchoring on the island, representatives from Disney Cruise Line confirmed the rumors Wednesday morning at a news conference in Houston.

"This means a lot to the port of Galveston," Cernak said, adding that the deal had been in the works for 18 months. "It shows that we've certainly rebounded from Hurricane Ike into significant growth."

With Disney Fantasy, Magic's sister ship, moving to Port Canaveral, Fla., Magic will temporarily sail out of New York City before the ship comes to Galveston in September 2012.

Disney Magic will depart Sept. 22, 2012, on the first of 12 seven-night cruises from the Port of Galveston to the Western Caribbean. Ports of call include Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Cozumel.

The ship, first launched in 1998, can accommodate 2,400 passengers.

The ship has three pools, themed eateries and song and dance shows in the Walt Disney Theatre.

"In 2012, we're making it easier than ever for families to enjoy a Disney Cruise Line vacation by offering cruises from a variety of regional home ports," Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz said.

The Port of Galveston is home to Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International vessels. Accommodating five cruise ships will not be a problem, Cernak said.

"We were able to work out our scheduling and space to meet all of the cruise lines' needs," he said. "There will be no conflicts."

Later this year, Carnival Magic and Triumph will replace Conquest and Ecstasy in Galveston.

In November, Royal Caribbean will launch Mariner of the Seas and offer western Caribbean trips into 2012.

Also, Princess Cruises announced last month the Crown Princess would offer Caribbean cruises from the island between Dec. 22, 2012, and April 27, 2013.

In 2009, cruises from the island generated about $34.7 million in passenger and crew onshore spending in Texas, according to a 2010 Cruise Line International Association report.

"The economic impact will be tremendous," Leah Boyd, public relations manager for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. "Quality cruise lines attract tourists, which spend millions of dollars in our hotels, restaurants and shops. With Disney and four other new ships scheduled to sail from Galveston by the end of next year, the island's near future is looking very bright."

Rates for the Disney ship start around $840 per person for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

"What Disney is offering appeals to a different demographic than the other cruises," Cernak said. "I do believe Disney will do well in this market. I even got to meet Minnie. I didn't think I'd ever get to do that."

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Magic By The Numbers

Tonnage: 83,000

Length: 964 feet

Beam: 106 feet

Draft: 25.3 feet

Crew: 945