PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — When will cruising return nearly a year after being shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
What You Need To Know
- Cruises at Port Canaveral have been shut down for nearly a year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues
- Port officials say they have experienced a $14 million loss just since October
- Businesses in the area have also reported sizable losses due to the lack of cruises
Port Canaveral is reporting a more than $14 million loss just since October, with more losses expected as 2021 wears on.
A return to sailing can't come soon enough for the port, and businesses relying on passengers bolstering their livelihoods.
"Not very good, we miss them a lot," said Dina Ligerakis owner of Zachary's in Cape Canaveral, who is talking about Port Canaveral cruise ship passengers.
People who step off ships usually then step into her restaurant, but none have set foot inside for the past year.
"We depend on the cruise industry, it's been very challenging," Ligerakis said. "Very hard, very tough, like everybody."
Cruise passengers account for 50% of her business, she said, and since the pandemic began, business has dropped by 30%.
In the meantime, the return of cruising continues to be kicked down the road.
Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer Captain John Murray said commissioners just learned Carnival is calling off cruises through May.
"We're in the hands of the CDC, they control the destiny of our ships, and when they can come back," Murray said.
It means the port's new 185,000 square foot Cruise Terminal 3, completed in June 2020, will continue to sit empty and unused.
"We haven't had a single passenger through it yet," Murray said.
Carnival's "Mardi Gras," which will be home-ported at Port Canaveral, remains overseas indefinitely.
Port Canaveral is seeking federal aid through the latest COVID-19 relief bill yet to be voted on by Congress.
Murray remains optimistic cruising will return soon.
"We need to get our economy back and people working again," he said.
And when that happens, Ligerakis's doors are open.
"Please come, we cannot wait," she said.