State of Port Canaveral: Travel potential but many obstacles remain

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There's pain at the Port as so many obstacles still remain before cruises set sail again.

Back on March 17th, the last cruise ship arrived at Port Canaveral to debark guests under normal operations. Since then, Captain John Murray, Port Canaveral CEO, described the situation as “duct tape on the engine."

He spoke at the State of the Port address on Thursday morning and discussed the "tough times" the Port has gone through. While hoping for a quick solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, difficult decisions were made. These include workforce reductions, furloughs, and early retirements.

Now, eight months since sailing was shut down, the economic impact is staggering.

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“Without cruising, we lose $1.2 billion in expenditures in the state, 11,000 total jobs, $400 million in annual wages and $31 million state and local tax revenue that is not collected because we are not running cruise ships through our port,” Murray said.

The CDC has no lifted the no sail-order and replaced it with a conditional sail order through November 1st, 2021. It opens up the potential for the Port but presents more obstacles.

For instance, crew members will not be allowed off the ship once they are on board. Murray explained that “If they’re on for a nine-month contract, they’re nine months on that ship.

In addition, all ships will be required to have testing facilities on board. Passengers will be tested before they get on and when they get off. Capacity will be limited to 50 percent. Masks and social distancing will also be enforced.

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No cruise longer than seven days will be allowed during this conditional sale order.

Before anyone can start booking voyages, the cruise lines must demonstrate their safety protocols through free voluntary simulated cruises with the public.

Despite these measures, port leaders said they are hopeful.

“We have a very, very bright future at this port,” Murray said.

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