Port Canaveral’s return to cruising gaining steam despite extension of CDC conditional sailing order

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — Port Canaveral’s return to cruising is gaining momentum.

Port CEO Captain John Murray says the cruise lines are gradually increasing the number of passengers boarding their ships.

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“We’re really looking ahead for an exciting season this year,” Capt. Murray said.

Port Canaveral saw 37 sailings in September. So far in October, there have been 49.

“I believe now we’re in a place people are feeling a lot more comfortable,’ Murray said. “The cruise industry has done what I’ve said all along they could do: put the right protocols in place and cruise safely.”

Murray says he doesn’t believe the recent decision by the CDC to extend its framework for conditional sailing order for cruise ships will slow the port’s return to cruising.

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“The industry is strong,” Murray said. “This is the slow season for the industry in general because all the kids are in school. When the holidays start...that’s when people are out of school and there’s a lot more traffic on the ships.”

Even more ships are scheduled to arrive before the end of the year.

Royal Caribbean’s “Independence of the Seas” will arrive Monday. Meanwhile, Murray says cruise revenue has outpaced operating expenses for a second month in a row.

For the people who support the cruise industry, it also means a return to work.

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“We’re part of this port,” Longshoreman Paul Kellem said. “We’re an extension of the port. We’re just thankful to be working again.”

The CDC’s conditional sail order extends through January 15th. After that, the program becomes voluntary.

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