HOUSTON Several years after its completion, a steady stream of cruise ships will now call Bayport home.
The Caribbean Princess pulled into Bayport Tuesday morning, marking the start of a three year long commitment between the port and Princess Cruises.
Bayport was built in 2008, but sat empty for years.
Phyllis Saathoff, with the Port of Houston, says bad publicity surrounding the cruise industry, as well as the recession, made it difficult to find tenants.
We had expected to have a cruise line in the facility immediately and operating, but as we all know, there was a bit of an economic downturn so that delayed things a bit for us, she said. But we are up and running now.
Thousands boarded the cruise ship for Cruise for a Cause money raised through ticket sales and activities onboard will go toward the Vietnam Veteran s memorial fund, as well as Operation Homefront.
Next fall, Norwegian Cruise Line will also base a ship at Bayport, which sparked concerns over whether the new port would take business away from the Port of Galveston.
I think there is room and opportunity for both ports and I m very excited about the future and what it will mean for the greater Houston region, said Saathoff.
Locals who like to cruise, like Houston resident Tandy Othhold, say she is happy to see the port put to use.
It s close and convenient, Othhold said.
The port of Houston estimates between 200 and 300 jobs were created because of Bayport s opening.