TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Covid-19 is once again impacting the cruise industry.
Multiple cruise lines announced they are pausing voyages Friday, as infections rise in Florida. That includes a Royal Caribbean cruise that is scheduled to depart from Port Tampa Bay Saturday.
Serenade of the Seas offers cruises out of Tampa and Vancouver. Royal Caribbean confirmed to 8 On Your Side the pause in operations impacts Tampa sailings from Jan. 8 through March 5.
Becky Lemke and 18 other family members booked a cruise with Royal Caribbean. However, seven children in their group were not vaccinated because they were younger than 12. Lemke says the children took a Covid-19 PCR test earlier this week in order to get on the ship, but the results haven’t made it to the lab yet.
So, unfortunately, only four of the 19 family members were able to get on the ship.
“What’s frustrating is it said on their website we were still within their guidelines that they would accommodate us as long as we can prove we did everything but when we got there today they changed their policy and took it off their website,” Lemke said. “Their expectations are unrealistic.”
Gustavo Jimenez works at Fabrica Woodfired Pizza in Channelside, two blocks away from Port Tampa. He says they have many regulars and tourists who get off the cruise ship, searching for a bite to eat.
“We had a lot of people come in with their bags, asking where can I leave my bag, just leave at the door, come in,” Jimenez said. “It is nice to see that affluence of people coming into the business.”
He says it wasn’t the same when cruises weren’t going in and out of the port for a while.
“Yes we noticed less people, less tourists because the cruise ships not being able to operate,” Jimenez said.
Lemke and the few family members who were able to get on the ship sailed out of Cape Canaveral Friday, and in their situation, they’re seeing how COVID-19 continues to rear its ugly head.
“These children are crying, they think they’re doing something wrong, they’re apologizing thinking they ruined the trip,” Lemke said.
Guests who booked travel aboard the canceled sailings are said to receive assistance and compensation options, including a full refund.
“Our teams will continue to consider every option and resource to keep cruising safe and enjoyable as the world and the cruise industry continue to adapt,” the company added.