Port’s cruise business rises

Port Canaveral’s cruise business was up more than 6 percent in June, but cargo shipments remain down, new data show.

The port drew 105,769 multiday cruise passengers in June, up from 99,152 passengers in June 2007, according to the latest statistics from the Canaveral Port Authority. Multiday cruises from the port totaled 39 in June, compared with 37 in June 2007.

„June was a good month,“ said Stan Payne, the authority’s chief executive officer. „Our multiday cruise business remained very strong, as cruising and the Caribbean continued to be a very attractive vacation combination.“

Still, from October, when the port’s fiscal year begins, through June, multiday cruise passengers at the port were down 8.5 percent, mainly because of a drop in port-of-call stops by visiting cruise ships, statistics show.

The port’s two gambling ships drew 53,859 passengers in June, down 14 percent from a year earlier. Sun Cruz Casino’s Sun Cruz VII saw a 4.5 percent increase in business in June, while Sterling Casino Line’s Ambassador II saw a 24.6 percent drop.

Sterling recently ended a decade of cruises out of the port. The company’s Web site said Sterling has left Canaveral because the company’s lease with the port has expired..

Another gambling ship — Las Vegas Casino Lines‘ Liquid Vegas — is expected to arrive at the port next week.

In cargo at Port Canaveral, imports and exports were down 12 percent from June 2007.

From October through June, cargo shipments at the port have totaled 1.94 million tons, down 27.6 percent from the same period a year ago. Port officials have attributed the cargo decrease to the slowdown in the economy, especially in housing construction.