Cruise industry crippled by COVID-19 eager to resume trips

'Most people have received their vaccinations ... They're ready to go,' travel agent says
Posted at 1:07 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 13:07:21-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — The U.S. cruise industry was hit hard over the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially here in South Florida.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Rebound South Florida |

However, the CDC and cruise companies are coming together with hopes of allowing ships to set sail this summer.

The first cruise ship operating out of the Port of Palm Beach is scheduled to set sail in July.

The Grand Classica is scheduled to leave July 2 from the Port of Palm Beach en route to Freeport.

"For Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, our purchasing within the Palm of Palm Beach is north of $70 million per year," said Oneil Khosa,
CEO of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. "That's direct spending, so imagine the multiplier effects of that spending, which have been
absent for a year now."

Oneil Khosa, CEO of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line
Oneil Khosa speaks about the resumption of cruises from the Port of Palm Beach.

Cruise lines have been prohibited from sailing in U.S. waters or stopping at U.S. ports since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cruising is the last big industry in the nation that is still waiting to reopen.

RELATED: CDC tells cruise lines that ships could depart ports in July, reports say

"People are ready to travel," said Laura Reece, owner of Reece Worldwide Travel. "Most people have received their vaccinations and they're ready to go."

Reece has been receiving a spike in calls from travelers hoping to take a cruise from the U.S. and set sail during the summer months.

She said there's a lot of incentives for travelers to book early while cruise lines navigate vaccine requirements and ship readiness.

"The cruise lines will require passengers to be vaccinated in order to sail just to make sure that the clients, as well as people working on the ship, are protected," Reece said.

Reece is also encouraged by the latest updates from the CDC regarding domestic travel and masks for those who are fully vaccinated, especially as more grocery stores and retail establishments relax mask requirements.

Laura Reece, owner of Reece Worldwide Travel
Travel agent Laura Reece says travelers are eager to begin cruising this summer.

"What's going on with the masks is really important, and kind of foreshadows what's going to happen with the cruise industry," Reece said. "We're seeing that people are more relaxed when they're outdoors in an open-air environment."

Meanwhile, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line had to sell one of its ships, the Grand Celebration, last year.

The cruise line is also reporting a series of ongoing discussions with the CDC to ensure all terms of the conditional no sail order are met.