US Commissioner Louis Sola (pictured left) continued his examination of COVID-19 impacts to the southern Florida economy and the region’s cruise industry infrastructure when he recently met with Port Everglades officials.
Jonathan Daniels, CEO and Port Director, and Glenn Wiltshire, Deputy Director, hosted Commissioner Sola for a conversation about how Port Everglades is managing the lost cruise business and preparing for the eventual resumption of passenger vessel sailings.
The cruise industry generated $59.4 mill in Fiscal Year 2019 for Port Everglades, representing one third of the port’s total revenues.
Port officials used the ‘Celebrity Apex’ as an example to illustrate the economic impact of lost business. She was delivered earlier this year and is now tied up at the port while its crew trains for the ship’s eventual deployment.
Prior to cessation of cruise operations, ‘Crystal Apex’ was scheduled to operate 25 homeport calls at Port Everglades in Fiscal Year 2021.
These sailings would have resulted in an estimated 140,000 pax movements that would have generated around $2.1 mill in direct revenue to the port. Port officials claimed that she would have represented less than 4% of total planned passenger movements.
While the cessation of cruise sailings has led to lost revenues for this year, Port Everglades executives told Commissioner Sola that they were focusing on the growth opportunity the sector represents over the longer term. Key to their business plans is upgrading the cruise industry infrastructure within the port to accommodate larger cruise vessels and increase operational efficiencies.
During his visit, Commissioner Sola toured two of the many ongoing capital projects. For example, the ‘Heron Garage’ is a $117 mill construction project nearing completion that will support two of the port’s cruise terminals with 1,800 parking slots.
He also inspected an existing terminal being retrofitted to accommodate the cruise passengers in an environment that incorporates the appropriate safeguards to reduce risk of exposure to harmful pathogens.
“Florida is the home to America’s passenger cruise industry, a business that is a vital economic driver to cities throughout the state. The briefing provided by the Port Everglades leadership was beneficial for my ongoing work on ’Fact Finding 30’.
“I am also grateful for the discussion we had about the cargo business at their facility and how trade growth will benefit southern Florida,” Commissioner Sola said.