Carnival Cruise Lines said Friday it was cancelling port calls in Key West in September and October, according to cruise line officials. The cruise line did not specify its reason for the cancellations.
Key West City Manager Patti McLauchlin said Friday she was not aware of any cancellations other than the Sept. 25 planned port call of Carnival Dream. The ship will instead sail from Galveston to Freeport, Half Moon Cay and Nassau in the Bahamas.
“They have cancelled that one,” McLauchlin said. “Are they cancelling other trips to Key West? I have not gotten any word on that.”
According to the website cruisecritics.com, the Carnival Sunrise also will not return to Key West, but will instead leave on four- and five-night sailings from Miami.
The Carnival Cruise Lines website has 23 ports listed on its “Sail From” tab, but Key West no longer is among them. Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa and Port Canaveral are listed under that category.
The cruise line told booked guests in a letter that “destination requirements are continuing to evolve,” necessitating the changes. Carnival has added port calls from Miami and a call at the Bahamian island of Bimini.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Carnival was visiting Key West as many as three times a week. Last November, voters in the Southernmost City overwhelming approved three ballot initiatives to curb cruise traffic, including limiting the number and size of cruise ships coming into port and the number of passengers and crew who can disembark.
In late June, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law that effectively overturned the city’s election results. Since then, city officials have been looking at other ways to set limits.
Following the signing of the law, city officials held a special meeting July 12 to address the legislation. More than 150 residents attended the meeting, with many calling for city leaders to fight to support the choice of the voters. The meeting also focused on how the city would counter the governor’s legislation.
Mayor Teri Johnston said at that time the city “will be working closely” with the Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships, Inc., a not-for-profit that has drafted three potential ordinances in accordance with its attorneys.
City Attorney Shawn Smith asked to be provided data he could use as “backup” to any ordinance that might be approved and passed at a future City Commission meeting.
Cruise companies have struggled with how to handle their schedules because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the emerging uptick in cases of the Delta variant.
Many cruise ship lines are limiting their capacity and requiring at least 95% of passengers are vaccinated, which follows guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships were recently lifted after a ruling by a federal appeals court, which said the CDC failed to demonstrate an entitlement to a stay pending appeal of its lawsuit against the state challenging the regulations.