Analysis highlights necessary attributes

BROWNSVILLE — An initial “desktop study” of meteorological and oceanographic data showed that the Island offers safe harbor conditions shielded from prevailing wind and waves.

Cruise ships would enter through the jetties of the Brazos Santiago Pass and dock bayside. The study identifies three potential berthing locations requiring various levels of dredging and says that, in light of the county’s redevelopment of Isla Blanca Park, cruise passenger reception facilities should be “limited and temporary” to minimize environmental impact as well as cost.

The ideal berthing location would lend itself to a number of pier configurations, with a relatively small environmental footprint and minimal dredging required, the study concludes.

The uniqueness-and-branding category includes “tropical adventures” SPI Group thinks would appeal to cruise passengers — things like kiteboarding, deep-sea fishing, dolphin watching, scuba diving and horseback riding, all available within five miles of a docked cruise ship.

“Heritage tours could be created starting with the Native American story through the colonial era, including shipwreck maps and trips to the 1830s-era lighthouse at Port Isabel,” reads the report.

As for consumer demand, the Island already gets 4.5 million visitors per year, the study points out. With request for information about the Island through online and print advertising coming from around the country — especially from the Northeast, the Great Lakes region, California and Florida — consumer interest is national in scope, according to SPI Cruise Group.

The study notes that availability of “shore excursion opportunities” near a port of call is what attracts cruise lines, and that the Island features a “diversified and mature tourism infrastructure” with a number of potential shore tours of which cruise passengers on a day trip could take advantage.