PortMiami stays open for business during pandemic thanks to cargo, director says

PortMiami prepares to welcome back cruise lines in September

MIAMI – Without the regular flow of hard-core cruise-goers, PortMiami Director Juan Kuryla said cargo and trade have helped the port to stay open for business during the coronavirus pandemic.

During a public meeting of the Miami-Dade County Tourism and the Ports Committee on Tuesday, Kuryla said PortMiami employees have only reported a few COVID-19 cases over the last couple of weeks. About 110 administrative employees are able to work from home.

Latin America and the Caribbean make up PortMiami’s largest trade region, according to Miami-Dade County. The top 10 countries are the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala, Jamaica, El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Ecuador. About 37% of the cargo comes from Asia and 16% from Europe.

“We continue working on plans for the eventual reopening of the port to the cruise industry, which as you know has left a very significant void in this community,” Kuryla said.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s no-sail order expires on July 24, but the members of the Cruise Lines International Association announced the voluntary suspension of U.S. operations until Sept. 16.

Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have been juggling an increase in clean up costs, a no sail order and lawsuits.

First cruise ship companies are resuming operations in other areas of the world. Carnival’s first departure will be in Sydney, Australia on Sept. 25. Disney Cruises and other popular cruise lines plan to start sailing in October and September.

Royal Caribbean aims to sail from Miami to the Bahamas on Sept. 18. On Oct. 1, Norwegian Cruise Line plans to sail from Miami to the Bahamas and Crystal Cruises from Miami to San Juan. The Carnival Ecstasy is scheduled to sail to the Bahamas on Oct. 4.

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The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.