Port Canaveral’s New Cruise Terminal Sits Idly
Port Canaveral’s new $155 million Cruise Terminal 3 is all dressed up and ready for visitors. But no one is coming.The 188,000-square-foot terminal was considered substantially completed in May and became fully operational in June.
It was supposed to be used this year for Carnival Cruise Line, including for Carnival’s new Mardi Gras, the biggest ship in its fleet. The Mardi Gras also would be the first cruise ship to be based in North America to be powered by liquefied natural gas.
But those plans have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Multi-day cruise ships have not sailed from U.S. ports since March, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order.
The order was lifted Oct. 30, but cruise lines now are working to meet a series of complex CDC requirements before they can resume sailing. Cruise lines with ships based at Port Canaveral don’t plan to begin sailing until at least March.
The port of Carnival Cruise Line is making semi annual debt payments as part of the $112 million in loans it took out to help pay for the terminal’s construction.
Port officials say the port is using money from cruise and other revenue it has accumulated in the past to meet the debt payment, and also is paying back the debt ahead of schedule to reduce interest expenses.
Under terms of a deal announced in 2018, Carnival Cruise Line will pay $50 million to Port Canaveral through a special fee, called a “capital cost recovery charge,” to help pay for Cruise Terminal 3. The port will charge Carnival for every passenger getting on or off a ship at Port Canaveral until the $50 million total is reached.