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Travel Industry Feels Pinch Of Cruise Shutdown Due To COVID

Cruise lines have halted operations in Florida and nationwide for the rest of 2020 because of the possible spread of COVID-19 on ships.

The coronavirus continues to impact Florida’s tourism industry, now forcing cruise lines to shut down their U.S. offerings for the remainder of the year.

Large ports in Florida such as Port Canaveral, Port Everglades and Port Tampa Bay will not be used for cruises until 2021.

This decision was made Nov. 3 by members of the Cruise Lines International Association in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus on ships.

According to Janice Sinardi, owner of Cruise Planners Travel Agency in Temple Terrace, the initial shutdown of cruises in March affected 80 percent of her business this year.

“I don't think people realize how much [the coronavirus] has impacted not only the cruise industry, but the travel industry, the hospitality industry, because it's all kind of connected in a way,” she said.

Travel agents get paid commissions from the cruise lines after customers take their trips.

Cruise lines being shut down also resulted in a large number of layoffs and furloughs.

“When this all happened in March, none of us thought this would go more than 60 or 90 days max, it now will be until the end of the year,” she said.

Lines are not expected to start sailing in the U.S. again until January 2021 at the earliest, taking away the financial boost of families traveling during the holidays.

For cruise lines to start operations again, they will have to implement new requirements set in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ships will be required to have coronavirus testing on board. The passengers will also be expected to participate in social distancing.

“All ships are going to have an area for quarantining,” said Sinardi. “There will be more medical staff on board, a lot of sanitizing and limits in the elevators.”

With these new requirements planned for cruise lines in the new year, Sinardi hopes to see the industry grow again.

“I do understand there will be people out there that will be cautious about it,” she said. “I think it's when the time is right and you feel comfortable, people will see how easy it will be to get back into taking a cruise again.”

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Courtney Holland