Cruises are likely to return in mid-to-late summer, according to comments from Port Canaveral CEO Captain John Murray.
Murray shared the updates during a Commission Meeting, presenting to the port’s commissioners about the restart of cruising at Port Canaveral, as well as the industry as a whole.
“It’s starting,” Murray said to a round of applause. Later on he added more details, stating, “We’re going to be starting sometime in mid-to-late summer.”
During his presentation, the Port Canaveral CEO highlighted the significant progress that’s been made so far. This includes vaccinations for crew members and working on agreements with health authorities and cruise lines.
In general, the tone of his presentation was very optimistic that a return is on the horizon. This included noteworthy comments on CDC approval of port agreements. These approvals are a major piece of the puzzle for ships to sail again.
“All of the cruise lines are ready to get started, but first they’ve got to finalize port agreements, and then these have to be reviewed by the CDC. I will say that it came out in last night’s news that Royal Caribbean filed their application for Miami — ours has already been filed as well. But they did hear yesterday that the Miami application was approved by the CDC.”
“So we’re optimistic that we’re going to start getting some approvals this week,” he added.
Miami Test Cruises in June
There was also some insight on the scheduling of simulated test cruises. Royal Caribbean announced yesterday they plan to sail a test cruise June 20-22 aboard Freedom of the Seas.
As part of the CDC’s return guidelines, cruise lines that don’t plan to sail fully-vaccinated cruises must sail a test cruise with volunteer passengers to practice the new protocols put in place to keep passengers healthy. If a cruise ship plans to sail with everyone vaccinated, then they can skip this requirement.
Since test cruises were first announced as part of the return process, they’ve seen significant interest from passengers eager to get back to sailing.
“Revenue passenger sailings will only occur after successful simulated sailings. That’s coming,” Murray said. “First simulated sailing in Miami is scheduled for the latter part of June.”
With the first test cruise announcement from Miami, it’s likely that given Port Canaveral’s prominence as a major cruise port, simulated voyages from the port could be coming soon.
The port CEO also gave an update on the recent lawsuit filed by the state of Florida against the CDC to allow a return to cruising. A judge sent the case to mediation on May 18th. According to the schedule presented during Murray’s presentation, the mediation is set to begin on May 27 and be completed June 1.
Other big news is that Carnival’s newest and largest ship — Mardi Gras — will arrive at Port Canaveral on June 4 for her first visit to her new homeport. The port anticipates crowds in the area to see the new ship and is making arrangements to handle traffic.
Return Is Ramping Up
As we recently explained, the next two months are set to be the busiest ever in cruising as the wrinkles are ironed out on a restart.
Already Alaskan cruises have been added to the summer schedule for multiple lines following legislation that allowed them to sail without a required stop in Canada. We’re also getting more updates on vaccine requirements, as well as new guidelines about policies on ships for passengers and crew.
In recent weeks, it certainly appears that the return is ramping up. More details are coming out almost daily as the CDC, cruise lines, and ports all make announcements as they work toward a return.
“Once it gets started, I always said it was going to turn up like a dimmer switch,” Murray said during his presentation. “It’s going to be a dimmer switch, but it might be turning a little faster. We’ve got so many people vaccinated in the United States now, and the whole situation has evolved to a point that I think that it’s going to come back faster than I would have originally predicted.”