Old Galveston Square //
(c) Beau B
During the early hours of Sept. 13, the Port of Galveston on the eastern Texas coast braved Hurricane Ike, the fifth storm of this year’s hurricane season in the region. Hurricane Ike, which had reached Category 4 status prior to hitting the U.S., caused damages estimated at $27 billion, making it the third costliest hurricane to ever hit the U.S.
The Port of Galveston is home to a number of cruise ships, including Carnival’s Ecstasy and Conquest and Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas.
Despite the storm’s severity, recovery efforts in the Port of Galveston have been swift. The Port Board of Trustees has granted port director Steven Cernack the temporary emergency authority to spend up to $55 million on repairs. Although the recovery is far from being completed, cooperation between the Texas Department of Transportation and the port’s tenants has expedited the process of assessing damages, removing debris and repairing facilities.
“The cruise terminal is looking pretty good,” Christina Galego, Port of Galveston public relations manager, told TravelAge West. “We have a cruise ship in port right now, Imperial Majesty, and we’ll be fully operational by the end of October.”
The port handled its first vessel nine days after the storm and the first weekly refrigerated vessel — which brought produce to the area — arrived in the second week of October. Also, during that time, permanent electric and water services were back in place at most port facilities; however, the water is not yet considered drinkable.
“We will be happy to have cruise passengers back in a few weeks. Hotels and restaurants are reopening, residents are returning and our tourism infrastructure is already receiving guests,” said Galveston mayor Lyda Ann Thomas. “The port’s quick response and generous resource sharing is an inspiration to recovery efforts through the city and community.”