Port of Galveston Director Steve Cernak, who is leaving to become chief executive/port director for Port Everglades in Florida, visited with Guidry News Service after the Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves named Michael Mierzwa as the new port director.
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“I really think that Mike will do an outstanding job,” Cernak said. “Part of what I’ve done with the staff is try to develop, basically, a succession plan internally and to have the proper people in place so that if something happened to me they would be able to move on.”
Cernak said he is proud of the development of Galveston’s cruise ship business since he joined the port in 1999 as port engineer and deputy director.
“I was specifically brought in at that time to spearhead the conversion of the cruise terminal that is now Cruise Terminal Number 1,” Cernak recalled, noting the impact that the cruise industry has had on the success of the port. “It’s been an interesting run I’ve had. I met a lot of people in the industry. I respect them all. I’ve had very interesting negotiations with Carnival and Royal Caribbean going forward.”
Cernak credits his negotiations with the cruise ship companies for infrastructure improvements that were required to support the operation.
Cernak notes that his cruise industry experience will be valuable on his new assignment.
“I am just starting to get acclimated there,” he said. “They have six cruise ship terminals. They just entered into a very long-term lease with Carnival. It mandates that they renovate four of those terminals within a prescribed period of time. Carnival has already congratulated me and said they look forward to working with me.”
He said the expansion of the Panama Canal will also provide opportunity to the East Coast.
“Every port is going to have potential impacts from that, in different ways,” Cernak said. “I think we all need to be ready for it.”
Today, the Port of Galveston is hosting a farewell party for Cernak. Mierzwa officially takes over on Thursday.