Port Canaveral, Florida – Hundreds of employees of a Port Canaveral casino cruise ship showed up for work Monday only to find out the Ambassador II has shut down and the employees have been laid off.
The next time the Ambassador II sets sail, it will be to another port and the hundreds of employees who used to work on the ship are now left unemployed.
„Everyone was just stunned. We were speechless,“ said former employee Debbie Bryant.
Bryant, a reservation receptionist, is among the hundreds of now former Sterling employees cast aside with absolutely no warning that their jobs were in jeopardy.
The casino cruise line decided to cash in and stop operations after 12 years at Port Canaveral. When Eyewitness News went to the office, a representative ultimately refused to answer questions and later asked a security guard to escort the crew out of their building.
In a internal memo obtained by Eyewitness News, the co-owner of the cruise line wrote their lease with the port was expiring.
„Although we have been working with the Port Authority for several months on a renewal, we have been unable to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. Therefore, we are forced to end operations out of this port,“ wrote Sterling Casinos co-owner John Brevick in memo.
A supervisor of card dealers said the lack of notice was typical of Sterling management.
„We had so many problems with it, it’s a wonder we could even get out of the port,“ said former supervisor Howell Jones.
The Port Authority said Sterling stopped negotiating with them and the CEO of the Port told Eyewitness News the job losses rest squarely on the shoulders of Sterling.
The employees get no severance, nothing. Some say they might try to find work on other casino ships.
As for the Ambassador II, Sterling has until next week to get the ship out of port.