Port Everglades and San Juan Continue Cruise Ramp-Up
The cruise industry is continuing to move forward with efforts to restore more of its ships to service with the focus shifting to North America and operations in the Caribbean for the winter of 2021-2022. Last weekend saw the busiest port day at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades as well as the first cruise ship to return to San Juan as its homeport. With the United States reducing international travel restrictions starting today, the cruise industry continues to look forward to expanded operations this winter.
Port Everglades approached its pre-pandemic levels of operations for the first time on Saturday, November 6. The port, which saw the first U.S. cruise resume sailing at the end of June, for the first time in 20 months hosted six cruise ships sailing with passengers on board.
"Six of our eight cruise terminals will be in use, so it is not the port's record and the ships will not be filled to capacity, but it will be a sight to behold and is a solid sign of recovery," said Port Everglades Chief Executive and Port Director Jonathan Daniels. "We have gone from three cruise ships starting up in June and July, to more than 20 ships that will be sailing in November."
Celebrity Cruises had two of its ships, Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Reflection, sailing on Saturday along with Royal Caribbean's Odyssey of the Seas. Carnival Corporations' brands also had two ships sailing from Port Everglades. This included Princess Cruises' Emerald Princess and Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam. A new arrival to Port Everglades was Viking Cruises' Viking Star. It was the first cruise for this ship from the port, joining a second Viking ship, Viking Orion, which initiated the new program from Fort Lauderdale two weeks ago.
San Juan, Puerto Rico, similarly, had previously opened for in-transit port visits, but yesterday welcomed its first cruise ship that will be homeported on the island for the winter season. Royal Caribbean International returned its ship the Explorer of the Seas to operation after receiving a certificate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is the company’s 15 ship to return to service.
Before returning to service, the 137,300 gross ton cruise ship conducted a simulated cruise under the CDC rules to test its crew with the COVID-19 protocols. They operated a two-night trial and then were able to commence revenue service offering seven-day cruises to the Caribbean. Like most cruise ships, they are still operating with reduced capacity to provide for better social distancing among passengers.