Cargo Operations Continue at Port Canaveral

Cruise ships moored at Port Canaveral, March 14 (courtesy Port Canaveral

Published Mar 16, 2020 10:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

Port Canaveral saw its last cruise ship departure for at least 30 days this Friday with a sailing of the 4,000-passenger Disney Dream. Disney, like all major cruise lines, has paused its North American sailings due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and Port Canaveral's berths are now full with idled cruise ships. However, there is still a bright side: commercial cargo operations continue as always, including the unique space industry cargoes that only Port Canaveral handles. 

"Port Canaveral is at normal operations and continuing to closely monitor the COVID-19 developing situation. [The] decision by cruise lines to voluntarily and temporarily suspend cruise ship operations from U.S. ports will have profound impact, especially for a cruise port like ours," the port said. "As the world’s second busiest cruise port, we are working cooperatively with our cruise partners to coordinate our efforts and help meet their operational and berthing needs."

The port said that it is working closely with federal, state and local government agencies to ensure that it is taking every measure to ensure the safety of its employees and the community. 

Business continues

While the cruise industry has paused for now, the port has many other lines of business. With 11 cargo berths, Canaveral handles a mixture of containerized cargo, breakbulk, ro/ro cargo, petroleum, dry bulk and specialty cargoes every day. 

Commercial spaceflight company SpaceX - a Port Canaveral tenant and frequent port customer - is continuing its launch schedule. SpaceX's operations are unique: the company uses of a DP-enabled barge as a landing pad to recover used booster rockets at sea, then brings them back to the port for refurbishment. The recovery-and-reuse program is an important component of the firm's business plan, as it dramatically reduces the cost per launch. Its latest launch event is scheduled for Wednesday, and - if the recovery landing is successful - the recovered booster should return to the port later this week.