Bookings expected to increase as CDC eases travel warning for cruises

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — Cruise traffic is picking up at Port Canaveral, and experts say bookings are expected to ramp up even more now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has eased its travel warning for cruising.

Instead of recommending that everyone avoid cruising, the agency is now suggesting passengers make sure they’re up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations before sailing.

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The industry’s largest trade association calls the change from warning level four to level 3 a step in the right direction.

Cruise industry expert Stewart Chiron, known as “The Cruise Guy,” has been on a dozen cruises since sailings resumed from U.S. ports. He said he doesn’t believe that the level 4 warning instituted by the CDC on Dec. 30 accurately reflected what was going on.

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Port Canaveral saw a drop in cruise traffic in January, but passenger counts are back up.

“We are anticipating a very strong spring break, and if you look at the past four weeks,  our numbers have been going up by double digits every week,” said Canaveral Port Authority CEO Capt. John Murray.

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The next course change for the cruise industry is just ahead. Cruise lines have until this Friday to tell the CDC if they’ll participate in the agency’s COVID-19 program for cruise ships.

Ships will continue to be assigned a color status of green, yellow, orange or red to indicate it’s COVID-19 status. Ships that opt-out would be designated as gray.

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The CDC has plans to re-evaluate its new voluntary plan on March 18.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.