Sept/Oct - Message from the CEO

10/15/2020

Dear Port Canaveral Family,

Port Canaveral, like other U.S. cruise ports, is hopeful we’ll soon see the restart of cruising in the United States. Without cruise sailings from our Port, the local economy and entire Central Florida region has had profound negative economic impact. Our extended community – hotels, restaurants, tour operators, ground transportation companies— individuals and family-owned small businesses, and in some cases, generations of hardworking local citizens – have been affected by the more than six months’ suspension of cruising.

Recently, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would extend its No Sail Order for cruise lines to October 31st. This continues to prevent cruise lines from operating in U.S. waters. While this extension was not unexpected, and it aligns with the cruise industry’s voluntary suspension of U.S. operations through the same date, we’re not certain what actions the CDC may or may not take by the time the current Order expires. Some cruise lines are optimistic for a limited restart of sailing as early as November, while others have announced sailings cancellations through the end of this year.

There’s been some positive momentum and good news, however.

We have seen multiple efforts at all levels of industry and government urging the CDC to work with the cruise industry to restart sailings from U.S. Ports. We are hopeful that the CDC will work with the cruise lines and review and approve their new sailing protocols that could result in some cruise ships sailing from Port Canaveral by the end of the year.

We have been working closely with all of our cruise partners on their plans to safely restart cruise operations as soon as the time is right and when approved to do so. While we may not know exactly what cruise ships and sailing itineraries we’ll have in the early phases of restart, we do know that all of our partners are planning great and exciting itineraries through 2023 from Port Canaveral.

Cruise sailings in Europe restarted in July, and have continued safely and successfully throughout August and September. Several lines, including MSC Cruises which will homeport two new ships here, have been using an operating model approved by multiple European government authorities. This European model includes new health and safety protocols for before, during and after cruising that are being strictly enforced and working well to protect the health and safety of passengers, crew members and port communities. Many of the protocols and procedures in the European model have been included in the return to sailing plans submitted by the cruise lines to the CDC last month.

When cruising resumes, we know cruise lines operations will be different to promote a healthy and safe cruising experience. We expect cruise lines will require 100 percent testing of passengers and crew prior to embarkation. Wearing masks will be mandatory for everyone during embark and debark, while onboard, and during shore excursions. Physical distancing will be required in cruise terminals, onboard ships and during shoreside transportation. Cruise lines will likely only allow shore excursions in accordance with their protocols and require strict adherence for all passengers, including denied reboarding for any passenger that does not comply.

We’re hard at work with the cruise lines and our partners at the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection to restart cruise operations from our Port.  We’re ready to get this business back online and get the many people back to work who depend on the success of cruising from Port Canaveral. It’s time to turn the tide.

Sincerely,
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Captain John W. Murray
Port Director and Chief Executive Officer