GULFPORT, Miss. – Cruise ships docked at the Port of Gulfport due to the industry shutdown have been directed to depart Gulfport by close of business on Friday.
According to a Port of Gulfport news release, this decision follows Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ shelter-in-place order for the entire state that will go in effect at 5 p.m. on Friday and last until 8 a.m. on April 20.
“In operating with the best interest of our community and customers, the Port Authority informed all cruise operators that vessels must depart the port due to the raising concern of coronavirus cases in Mississippi,” said Jonathan Daniels Port of Gulfport Executive Director and CEO, for the news release. “We have been honored to assist Carnival and Royal Caribbean during this time of uncertainty and we thank them for the opportunity to show our capabilities. We understand that this decision puts our cruise partners in a difficult position, but we fully support the Governor and state health leaders in the decision to move the vessels from the port to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved, and to properly align with the stress on our healthcare resources and first responders.”
There were four cruise ships docked at the Port of Gulfport during the industry shutdown, which included the Carnival Glory, Carnival Valor, Carnival Freedom and Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas. Many of the crew members who completed their employment contracts were able to disembark and be repatriated to their home counties late last week. U.S. Customs and Border Protection supported the Department of State and CDC partners in facilitating their disembarkation.
“I want to thank CBP, Port staff and the many partners at the Port of Gulfport for their patience, dedication and for working diligently to accommodate the needs of the cruise lines. It has been a joint effort to ensure all maritime activities were taking place in accordance with federal law while also showing the spirit of hospitality that makes Mississippi so unique,” said Daniels.
Until the threat of Coronavirus is gone, the Port of Gulfport will continue to support the efforts in limiting the spread of the virus while also maintaining essential operations, the news release states. At this time, the Port of Gulfport is open to commercial traffic and the port’s administrative office has limited personnel until further notice.