Cruise Lines International Association Calls for CDC to Open U.S. Cruise Ports, Port Canaveral CEO Says Florida Ports Are at Risk
The Cruise Lines International Association, or CLIA, is calling on the CDC to open U.S. cruise ports such as Port Canaveral. The United States cruise ports have been shut down for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Port Canaveral CEO John Murray recently spoke at a Canaveral Port Authority Commission and expressed concerns about business loss due to Canaveral still being unable to reopen. Murray stated, “You know It’s time. It’s now impacting our state in greater and greater ways as cruise lines start to look for other alternatives to get their businesses running.”
Cruise lines are beginning to set sail again this year, but they are taking their business to the Bahamas, Bermuda, and other Caribbean home ports instead of Port Canaveral. Murray noted that Celebrity cruises have resumed sailings out of St.Maarten and has plans to sail out of the Bahamas and Bermuda. Murray believes these businesses are direct threats to Florida’s ports.
Murray also stated that the resumption of sailing will be a slow “dimmer switch.” While most cruise lines have stated that they could get two or three ships up and running on short notice, we shouldn’t expect more than one ship per month to begin sailing after that.
CLIA is also calling on the CDC to allow U.S. cruise ports like Port Canaveral to reopen and remove the current guidelines in place. CLIA wants the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order that began in October to be lifted and replaced with a phased-in resumption of sailings by July. The current Framework for Conditional Sailing Order is in place until the first of November and contains 74 requirements that cruise lines must meet before allowing them to sail with passengers.
Some of those requirements include testing and preventative measures for crew, as well as simulating sailings where the ability to handle the COVID-19 risk can be assessed. Once the 74 points are met, cruise lines could apply to sail with passengers. Within this plan, all passengers must receive a negative COVID-19 test on the day they arrive and debark. Murray stated that cruise lines are currently requiring COVID-19 vaccinations as an easy way to resume sailing, however we do not know what the exact requirements will be when sailings resume from the United States.
CLIA President and CEO Kelly Craighead stated in a press release,
“The outdated [Conditional Sail Order], which was issued almost five months ago, does not reflect the industry’s proven advancements and success operating in other parts of the world, nor the advent of vaccines, and unfairly treats cruises differently…Cruise lines should be treated the same as other travel, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment sectors.”