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Despite challenges Port Canaveral handles two cruise ship turnarounds

The port handled debark and embark operations involving 14,300 passengers for two cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas, pictured, and Carnival Magic The port handled debark and embark operations involving 14,300 passengers for two cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas, pictured, and Carnival Magic

Port Canaveral continues to make progress toward regaining full operational capability following Hurricane Irma and handled turnarounds for two cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas and Carnival Magic, on Wednesday.

The port was opened with restrictions on Tuesday and is prioritizing cruise ships as well as tankers, which are supplying fuel critical to Florida's hurricane recovery.

'Today, we had two homeported cruise ships in port for debark and embark operations involving 14,300 passengers. This went quickly and smoothly thanks to the efforts and coordination between the Coast Guard, our port staff, Brevard County Sheriff's [Office] and US Customs and Border Protection,' Port Canaveral CEO John Murray said.

'Returning the port to normal operations has been hampered by the loss of power and failure of the City of Cocoa water system which supplies the port,' he added. 'While we continue to make significant progress, public safety is a top concern for all of us.'

Water limitations affect the port's firefighting capability, availability of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, conditions of the waterways and port infrastructure are still unknown, and full assessments of the affected areas are still being conducted. The Coast Guard is enforcing a temporary safety zone for these post-storm recovery operations.

Although initial inspection reports indicated mostly cosmetic damage to port structures, along with significant debris removal requirements, the port's Jetty Park Pier, campground and beach sustained significant damage from Hurricane Irma and is closed to public access indefinitely.

Canaveral has had limited operations capability due to lack of water and intermittent electric power. Business owners and operators began returning to their facilities Wednesday to complete damage assessments and conduct initial recovery and clean up operations. However, commercial operations will continued to be hampered until the public water supply is fully restored by the City of Cocoa.

Supporting Florida's critical needs has been a priority for the port.

'We had a fuel tanker vessel arrive at berth yesterday afternoon, and two more tanker vessels are on their way here. Between 10 a.m. yesterday and 3 p.m. today, 385 trucks were loaded and moved through the terminal to deliver gasoline, diesel and jet fuel throughout the state,' Capt. Murray said.

'This could not be possible without the ability to provide firefighting and fire suppression capabilities for the offloading operations,' he added. 'Without reliable water supplies from the City of Cocoa water system, Canaveral Fire Rescue has been able to deploy and establish critically necessary capabilities using water tankers and pump operations which involve running fire hose lines across some port roadways that will impact traffic flows on the east end of the port.'

Beginning Friday, Disney and Carnival Cruise Line will embark passengers for regularly scheduled cruises.

Oasis of the Seas departed today on an abbreviated four-night cruise to Cozumel, and Carnival Magic is sailing a three-night cruise to Freeport and Nassau.

Disney Dream is expected to depart Friday as scheduled, while Disney Fantasy's western Caribbean cruise on Saturday is a go. Disney Fantasy's Sept. 23 and Oct. 7 eastern Caribbean sailings are being modified to include ports in the western Caribbean. These two revised cruises will now visit Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Falmouth, Jamaica.

Posted 13 September 2017

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Anne Kalosh

US editor of Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Cruise News

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