Port Canaveral officials discuss COVID-19 losses, the future of the Port and cruising

It’s been five months since the second-largest cruise port in the world shut down because of coronavirus pandemic. 

The Canaveral Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners met on Wednesday to close out this year’s fiscal budget. Captain John Murray, the CEO of Port Canaveral, explained that “our capital budget, our overhead budget last year was 54 million. We’re down to 37 million. We’ve taken about 32 percent. We’re still looking at other items.  That number will probably increase."

The Port let go of 68 employees, furloughed 17, and they are ratcheting down their service and maintenance contracts, only servicing what the harsh salt air would otherwise ruin. Murray explained that this includes "things like our passenger boarding bridges, terminals, and air conditioning units. We have to keep them running. But the last thing we want is to not be in a state of readiness when crews show up and they’re ready to be back to work we need to be ready as well."

The Center for Disease Control's (CDC) “no cruise order” runs through the end of September. The Port’s primary cruise lines are all voluntarily standing down until the end of October. Canaveral Port Authority Commissioners are being extra conservative, basing their next fiscal budget on a soft start with cruises in January. Murray said that this means "we’ll start with one ship. Short cruises -- that sort of thing. And then it will evolve back hopefully in a year from now we’ll be approaching where we were last year."

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He also told FOX 35 that they are keeping a close eye on Europe, as "two of four brands have already started cruises. It’s not the destination type cruises with small ships. These are the big ships. The 5,000 passenger vessels that are operating out of Europe,” 

Murray also warned that cruise safety protocols will be strict on the high seas once they set sail. Masks, social distancing, and operating at half capacity. 

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