Most cruises from Florida might not set sail for another year or more, according to a lobbying group dedicated to the niche business sector.
In a Senate Transportation Committee meeting on Feb. 2, the Florida Ports Council stressed that cruise lines and the ports they debark from are working hard to meet an "onerous" slew of requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to safely set sail again in the future.
The Florida-based lobbying group is a nonprofit that serves 15 public seaports in the state and their management teams.
According to the group’s vice president of governmental affairs, Michael Rubin, 60% of the nation’s cruise activity takes place in Florida, but several federal regulations tailored to the coronavirus and cruise economics have presented challenges for the industry.
“The shutdown of the cruise industry – it remains the only industry that is not allowed to operate in the United States. And that has a significant impact on Florida,” Rubin told the committee. “We’re trying to work with the CDC to get [these] operations back up and running… It keeps getting pushed back, I wish I could tell you a date.”
He went on to note that cruise industry will be nearing the one-year mark since it has been out of commission due to the pandemic. Sailings were halted by the CDC in March 2020 after the coronavirus outbreak that hit Princess Cruises, which infected more than 700 people and led to the death of 14 passengers in the Port of Yokohama, Japan.
“I’m not sure we’ll have significant cruise operations until perhaps next year and even beyond that,” Rubin added, which could spell trouble for those who once worked in the industry.
The Florida Ports Council already estimates the pandemic has affected 170,000 jobs in the cruise industry, due to a forecasted loss of $22 billion from delayed voyages.
In October, the CDC introduced a framework for conditional sailing order for cruise ships that provide requirements that cruise lines need to meet to prove they are safe for travelers during the pandemic.
“I think all of our ports and the cruise lines are trying to work with the CDC to say, ‘Look, we’re [going to] have protocols, we’ll have masks, we’ll sail at half capacity so we can quarantine people if they need to be quarantined,’” Rubin commented.
A spokesperson for the Florida Ports Council did not immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment.