Port Canaveral, FL – Sept. 6, 2019 – Port Canaveral officials are crediting close coordination between its partners and outside agencies for a quick turnaround that had the Port at full operation less than 24 hours after destructive Hurricane Dorian skirted Florida’s Space Coast.
“Before, during, and after Dorian we were in constant contact with all of our partners and worked diligently with the Coast Guard to ensure our Port was 100 percent ready to open,” Port Director and CEO Capt. John Murray stated. “Our cruise line partners and cargo carriers were kept informed every step of the way and ready to resume operations quickly. Once we got the go-ahead, we were fully operational in less than 12 hours and awaiting the arrival of the first of six cruise ships.”
Early Thursday, the Port welcomed six cruise ships within six hours, each of which had altered and extended their sailing itineraries to avoid the hurricane. It was only the sixth time the Port had this number of ships arriving the same day. The Port utilized a cargo berth and Canaveral Pilots worked to reposition ships to their respective berths. Port Canaveral authorities estimated that approximately 31,000 cruise guests were disembarked and embarked within four hours.
Five of the arriving cruise ships are homeported at Port Canaveral: Disney Cruise Line’s Dream, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Harmony of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas, and Carnival Cruise Line’s Elation and Liberty. A sixth, the Carnival Ecstasy, is based in Jacksonville, Fla. and was diverted to Port Canaveral to disembark and embark guests while JAXPORT was closed due to Coast Guard Hurricane Condition ZULU. Carnival transported Ecstasy guests by bus between Port Canaveral and JAXPORT, which reopened later Thursday.
The Port began its hurricane preparations more than 10 days prior to the storm’s anticipated arrival, removing potential hazards shoreside and waterside including inspecting cargo and cruise berths, and securing active construction sites.
Seaport Canaveral, which operates one of Florida’s busiest fuel supply facilities, remained open until four hours before Brevard County’s mandatory evacuation became effective to keep the region’s fuel supply flowing before the storm. Post-storm, three fuel tankers began their scheduled arrivals at the Port’s south and north cargo berths after waiting offshore until Dorian passed Port Canaveral.
Vessel traffic resumed at Port Canaveral following the U.S. Coast Guard’s determination that the Port’s waterways were open and safe for transit.
The Canaveral Lock, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with Port Canaveral’s Jetty Park and Exploration Tower are reopened and fully operational.
Dorian ravaged The Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane with 185 mph sustained winds but weakened and stayed well offshore as it passed the Space Coast, sparing the Port and surrounding communities from major damage.
“While our outcome was far better than we anticipated, our hearts are with our neighbors and friends in The Bahamas who are dealing with the destruction and heartbreak left by Dorian,” Murray said.