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Rising tide: Cruise revenue pushes Port Canaveral toward $100 million

A new generation of leviathan-like cruise ships and a small but fast-growing cargo business has put Port Canaveral on the cusp of a significant milestone: $100 million in revenue.

The Brevard County seaport is forecasting $99.6 million in operating revenue in fiscal 2018, an 8.8% jump from the current year. Add a few hundred thousand dollars more in expected interest income and grant revenue, and Canaveral expects to top $100 million for the first time in its 64-year history.

Cruises are the big driver, accounting for about 80% of Port Canaveral’s revenue. The port anticipates 4.6 million multiday and port-of-call cruise passengers in 2018, from 591 home-port sailings and 123 port-of-call visits. The port, which charges cruise lines a per-passenger fee as well as other tariffs, expects its direct cruise revenue to rise 8.2% to $60 million and parking revenue from cruise passengers to rise 6.9% to $17.9 million.

“We’ve been getting larger ships in here — and these are 4,000- to 6,000-passenger ships,” says Rodger Rees, Canaveral’s deputy executive director and CFO.

Canaveral is also projecting a 14.1% spike in cargo-related revenue to $9.2 million. Rees says that’s due primarily to growth in petroleum-related shipments — oil, gasoline and jet fuel. Lumber shipments, which fell sharply after the housing bust, are also rising, along with shipments of granite, limestone, salt and containers.

The port began receiving vehicle shipments last year — recently reaching 10,000 cars, mostly new vehicles from Mexico. It also handles used cars and heavy-duty equipment that’s shipped out of central Florida into Latin America.

Another new source of cargo: Space-related shipments, including the spent rockets that SpaceX launches from nearby Cape Canaveral. The rocket tubes are picked up in the ocean and then shipped back to the port to be refurbished. “All of a sudden we have a new revenue source which we had not planned for,” Rees says.

Business Briefs

APOPKA — City leaders voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

DAYTONA BEACH — OneSky, a collection of private-jet companies owned by Directional Aviation, signed on as a tenant partner and will sponsor an innovation center within Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University’s research park. The center will host coding competitions and offer internships to Embry- Riddle students studying aviation information technology.

KISSIMMEE — Osceola Regional Medical Center is spending $50 million to boost its number of beds from 332 to 404.

LAKE MARY — Robinhood, an online brokerage, opened its first office outside of California and plans to hire more than 200 employees over three years.

ORANGE COUNTY — An administrative judge ruled that county commissioners violated their own rules when they approved a controversial housing development in the rural east end of the county. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Rick Scott had the authority to take capital cases away from Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala after Ayala announced that she will never seek the death penalty.

ORLANDO — Orlando International Airport completed the roughly $60-million sale of approximately 1,200 acres south of the airport to Tavistock Group, which plans to use the land to expand Lake Nona. Meanwhile, Lake Nona struck a deal with a corporate affiliate of Google to better integrate technology into a 3.8 million-sq.-ft. retail area called the Lake Nona Town Center. Lincoln Property Group bought most of Church Street Station, a mixed-use retail and entertainment center downtown. The company plans to redevelop the complex. Walmart began testing a grocery-delivery service at four Orlando stores. Specialty grocer Earth Fare will open its first Orlando location, its fourth in Florida. Pennsylvania-based Exeter Property Group plans to build a spec distribution center near Orlando International Airport of up to 500,000 square feet. The city is testing trash compactors and recycling bins downtown that have been equipped with sensors to notify the city when they are more than half full. Hard Rock International will move its headquarters from Orlando to south Florida. Microbrewer Orange County Brewers opened a 3,400-sq.-ft. brewery and brewpub downtown.

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Valencia College opened a $27-million Poinciana campus, its sixth central Florida campus.

PORT CANAVERAL — Parrish Healthcare opened a primary care and walk-in clinic catering to cruise passengers, ship crew members and port workers.

SEMINOLE COUNTY — Five cities — Altamonte Springs, Lake Mary, Longwood, Maitland and Sanford — that had been subsidizing Uber trips within their own limits struck an intercity agreement to subsidize trips around the five cities. County commissioners in Seminole, central Florida’s most affluent county, created an opioid task force in response to reports of overdoses. Meritage Homes spent $40 million to buy about 200 acres for a 700-home community in the southern part of the county.

THE VILLAGES — The first Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar in Florida opened in one of The Villages’ town centers.

WINTER GARDEN — City leaders approved an urban farming ordinance allowing residents to grow food or ornamental flowers on their properties.

WINTER PARK — City commissioners voted down a plan to have police officers wear body cameras.


  • Ann McGee, president of Seminole State College since 1996, will step down in July 2018, though she will continue to serve as president emeritus, helping with fundraising and other duties.
  • JHT, a defense simulation firm based in the Central Florida Research Park, promoted Carla Holoman to president and COO. Holoman has been with JHT since 2001.


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