“We are talking with the cruise lines on a consistent basis, there are weekly teleconferences. We are talking about what we are doing with our terminals and understanding what the obligations and criteria will be moving forward,” said Jonathan Daniels, who took over as the new CEO and port director at Port Everglades over the summer.
The 2020-2021 season for Port Everglades was poised to be a good one – the new Enchanted Princess was slated to call the port home, along with the Celebrity Apex and Odyssey of the Seas.
Looking at the new Celebrity Apex outside his office window, Daniels said he was working closely with the Royal Caribbean Group to understand what the terminal experience will look like.
“The difficult part will ultimately be determining where the line of demarcation is for accountability and responsibility,” Daniels said.
Guests will have staggered check in times, basically appointments to board, and the terminals will need to be re-flowed a bit, meaning various zones for testing, isolation and more.
“Laboratories, testing, how does that translate into space in the terminal?” Daniels asked. “What happens if there is a positive case?”
Asking those questions is part of an unknown, without answers or guidance yet from the CDC.
The port’s ferry service to the Bahamas launched for a two-week period in July, as it was not affected by the CDC’s “No Sail” order with a ship under 250 passengers aboard.
That meant Port Everglades had a trial run of sorts, installing plexiglass barriers, signage and hand sanitizer distribution stations in a terminal.
“We’ve been moving beyond that and integrating that into other terminals in anticipation of a restart of cruising,” Daniels said.
Pre COVID, a weekend in the winter could see upwards of 50,000 people move through Port Everglades on a single day with ships at all the port’s cruise berths.
With the business mounting a comeback in 2021, Daniels said potential for growth beyond that would be in increasing the utilization of cruise terminals, especially for itineraries leaving mid-week, along with building up more summer business.
With a pivot toward closer-to-home and shorter cruises, the port is well positioned in Florida to take advantage of that.