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Cruise Ships Ready To Sail - But Not From Tampa Just Yet

Carnival ship
Carnival Cruise Lines won't resume operations in Tampa until November

Cruise ships that have been stuck in port since the pandemic struck are starting to trickle back into Florida. But Tampa Bay won't see any cruise lines return until the fall.

If you want to take a cruise this summer, you'll have to first drive across state to Port Canaveral where ships could begin sailing soon as early as June.

Port Tampa Bay isn't scheduled to host its first cruise until November.

Before they can set sail, federal guidelines call for cruise lines to use volunteer guests to test their infection control plans. That includes having laboratories onboard to test for COVID-19.

John Murray is CEO of Port Canaveral.

"Every cruise line has to have an agreement with a hospital, has to have agreements with a transportation company to move people that might be sick to a hospital, and housing agreements if someone has to be quarantined ashore," Murray told WMFE, "so they’ve been working these deals independently."

Gov. Ron DeSantis has banned companies from requiring proof of vaccinations from customers.

One of Tampa's main cruise lines, Norwegian, said earlier this month it was considering suspending Florida departures because of the ban, but Port Tampa Bay's website shows it plans to resume local operations in December.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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