New CDC guidance brings local cruise ship travelers one step closer to setting sail

Jacksonville,Fl. — Now that all adults and some teens officially have the green light to get their COVID-19 vaccine in Florida— some have their sights set on travel.

And if you’re someone who’s been waiting to get on a cruise ship, you could be one step closer to setting sail.

On Friday, April 2nd, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their next phase of guidance under the Conditional Sail Order.

It requires cruise lines to:

  • Establish agreements at ports where they intend to operate,
  • Implement routine testing of crew
  • Develop plans incorporating vaccination strategies to reduce the risk of introduction and spread of COVID-19 by crew and passengers.

Action News Jax Courtney Cole spoke to JAXPORT and Carnival Cruise line  to learn what this means for local cruise ship travelers.

“You know, the eating on the cruise…the, you know, the entertainment on the cruise. You really don’t have to get off the ship because everything is on the ship,” Kanatha Stewart enthusiastically explained.

Those are just some of Stewart’s favorite things about taking a vacation on a cruise ship.

She’s one of the millions of people who have missed having the opportunity to setting sail during the pandemic.

“The people were very nice, good service. Just being able to just spread your wings without worrying about anything,” Stewart said.

JAXPORT  is the homeport to Carnival Cruise Line.

Chelsea Kavanagh, the Spokeswoman for JAXPORT, described the situation to Cole as very fluid. She went on to say  they are having conversations with cruise lines daily, but right now there is no finalized, COVID-specific agreement from Carnival.

Cole reached out directly to Carnival to learn when travelers should expect Carnival to be up-and-running out of JAXPORT again.

Via e-mail, their media team told Action News Jax  guest operations are paused through May 31st.

The halt in business doesn’t just have people feeling eager to travel, it’s also affected our  local economy.

According to Kavanagh, a 2019 study showed cruise activity at JAXPORT supports 799 jobs in Northeast Florida and generates nearly 20,000 hotel night stays, annually.

At the end of last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called on the CDC to rescind its no-sail order, citing the cruise industry’s importance to the state’s economy.

Stewart says she will be ready to plan her next cruise as soon as the pandemic gets better.

“So what I am trying already to do when this is all over is hop on a cruise ship and just probably go to Virgin Islands or, travel to Hawaii!”

Cole asked Carnival how many jobs have been impacted during the pandemic and if they’re hiring, but she is still waiting to hear back from their media team.