Year in Review: Port Canaveral takes hit as COVID-19 impacts travel

The once busy Port Canaveral is now hoping to send ships off on voyages in 2021.

The Diamond Princess in early February 2020 saw more than 700 people get sick on board. 14 of them eventually passed away. The ship had to dock in February and could not leave for a month.

Then, by mid-March, all the major cruise lines suspended operations as the CDC issued a no-sail order. At the time, the thought was this only temporary. 

Meanwhile, another ship -- Holland America's Zaandam -- was out at sea with more than 100 passengers sick. No ports would allow the ship to dock until Florida in April. The Zaandam and her sister ship, the Rotterdam, carried healthy passengers off the ship and onto Port Everglades. Four people died while at sea.

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In June, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian formed the "Health Sail Panel" to look at everything the cruise industry does and how it could do better with the goal of submitting a proposal to the CDC in the fall.

Then in September, the 65-page report was released with 74 recommendations total. However, when the CDC no-sail order expired in October, the cruise line said that they were not ready to sail. They began voluntarily pushing back sail dates until spring 2021.

According to the Cruise Line International Association, an estimated $32 billion has been lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney Cruise Lines has suffered too but not as much as the other companies because Disney has its parks and entertainment division to offset losses. They even plan to add another three ships in the next five years.

At Port Canaveral, a new ship called the 'Mardi Gras' was supposed to be arriving in February 2021. However, Carnival Cruise Line said that plans for delivery and a maiden voyage are still in flux.

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Port Canaveral has lost more than 20 million in revenue, reducing staff from 268 to 153. The world's second-busiest cruise ship port is mostly a ghost town since COVID-19.

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