It’s been a quiet year for one of the world’s busiest cruise ports, but those who work at Port Everglades have been hard at work in anticipation of a return to cruising and their efforts will help make it one of the safest cruise ports for travelers once things get back to normal.
Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine Founder and Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff sat down with Port Director and CEO Jonathan Daniels to talk about the many changes made over the past year and what cruisers can expect when they sail from Port Everglades in the near future.
What’s New at Port Everglades
When asked about the changes made to help make the port compliant with COVID-19 protocols, Port Director Daniels explained that they’ve spent the last few months perfecting the process.
“Taking those precautions and going through those protocols, what we’ve done during this time is really tried to perfect them. We’ve taken them from one terminal, they’ve grown out, and now we’re two and a half weeks from Celebrity Edge being here and going out on the first revenue cruise,” he said.
The most notable changes guests will encounter center around social distancing, enhanced sanitization and the port’s recent efforts to vaccinate the people they employ. Posted on doors, walls, floors, barriers and more, signs in multiple languages remind visitors of the protocols. Understanding that people may not always follow instructions, the team at Port Everglades have done quite a bit to ensure that even the most oblivious passengers can’t break the rules.
Cruisers will benefit from a new touchless pre-arrival check-in system and processing desks have been outfitted with plexiglass barriers built by the port employees themselves and an effort to reduce the number of desks side by side provides further levels of distance. New hand sanitizer stations posted all over the terminals.
Preparing for Celebrity Edge
The first revenue cruise out of Port Everglades will be on board Celebrity Edge on June 26th and Port Director Daniels let us know how preparations for that are going.
“Preparations are going very well. About a week from now we will do their stress test in Terminal 25. We’ll have anywhere from two to five hundred people come in, they’ll actually come into the terminal from the parking to running through the protocols and procedures, all the screening that would be necessary. So they’ll come in and mingle around for a little while and make sure what they have prescribed in the memorandum of agreement with the port and the lines, ultimately approved by the CDC, making sure those protocols are in place and they’re actually working,” he said. “If they need to tweak, they can tweak, but it’s exciting just to get them in here in that regard.”
When asked what the embarkation process will look like for guests, Director Daniels explained that many of the changes were things that cruise lines were exploring even before the pandemic.
“I think what you’re looking at is something that is a little bit on the horizon, I think a lot of the line were looking at some touchless opportunities, for them basically scan quickly, get you in. I think the days of 500 people coming in one fell swoop, congregating and beginning to party before going on the vessel, I think those days are gone, at least during this initial stage,” he said.
What Will the Future Bring?
Port Director Daniels was also asked about his first full year as the Port Director and what he hopes to accomplish in the coming year.
“When you really take a look at the port itself, we’re so diversified from our energy operations with petroleum, our cargo operation and of course cruise, what I have found here and which is surprising because I tend to be someone who ends up being fairly aggressive with our business development, we’ve had to manage our way through this. While the pandemic has been difficult, it has actually provided us something as an agency and an industry to focus on. There’s a crisis every single day, so we knew what we were going to be facing day in and day out. What we also did was we took advantage of it when we could. We accelerated some of our construction projects, we modified and amended one of our cruise terminals and cruise berth agreements and ended up getting that terminal back in our hands. So while we’ve had to become very creative and work our way through it, we think that we’re going to come out of this in the next year to two years stronger than we ever thought,” he said.
We can’t wait to cruise from Port Everglades again! Watch the entire interview with Port Director Daniels above!