PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — A port that was once flourishing is now in a budget deficit because of COVID-19 halting cruise ships.

What You Need To Know

Earlier this week, Port Canaveral CEO Captain John Murray broke the news to port commissioners that their budget will be in the red for the current fiscal year by about $17 million.

Port officials are planning to reduce their salaries and benefits by more than $1 million. Right now they have about 189 employees — about 57 are furloughed, and there are 21 unfilled positions.

“Our COVID expenses are our operating expenses. We just had our government stop ships from sailing, and when they stopped them from sailing our revenue stream went away, but we still have all of our costs,” Murray explained.

Captain Joey Spoerle from Canaveral Kings Charter says it's a trickle-down effect and costing him business too, because cruise ships are no longer setting sail or even docking at the port.

“That brings a lot of people. We get people off the cruise ships that are docked here for a day. We get a lot of people that are going on a 3-4 day cruise, and they come to the port to do an offshore fishing trip,” Spoerle explained.

“When (the pandemic) first started at the end of March, we thought it would last a month, by summertime June everything would be back to normal, the cruise ships would be going, and (we can) salvage the later part of the summer. But now everything is getting pushed back to September or October,” he continued.

For Jetty Park and Exploration Tower, the top two places to watch rocket launches, their revenue has been reduced by more than $1 million.

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