Miami-Dade Commissioners have agreed to move forward with major expansion projects at PortMiami amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The county recently authorized $335 million in bonds for capital projects with Carnival Corporation, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Terminal Link Miami, and Virgin Cruise.
“We are continuing with those investments. All we need are the passengers,” said PortMiami Director Juan Kuryla.
The future of the cruise industry remains uncertain. The current ban on cruising expires September 30 and cruise line companies do not expect to set sail until late October.
In all, the county agreed to pay $700 million toward the construction of several cruise line terminals and two company headquarters.
Commissioner Rebeca Sosa expressed frustration with the health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for not allowing cruises to resume.
She has called on the CDC to sign off on safety protocols the cruise industry wants to use aboard their ships.
“We are not telling them let us cruise tomorrow or let us cruise next month. We are telling them, review the plan, tell us what is right, what is wrong, so we can fix it because at the end of the day, you have thousands of residents of Miami Dade County and the state of Florida that depend on this industry for business,” she said.
Cruise line companies have agreed to repay the county in passengers fees for at least the next two decades, but with ships currently not sailing, no payments have been made.
“Between the cruise line stoppage in mid-March through September, the estimated direct revenue impact to the port is about $55 million,” Kuryla said.
According to the county, the cruise line companies will meet with commissioners in October to go over the passenger fees.