(CNN) – Two carnival cruise ships returned to the port of Galveston, Texas on Sunday.
After more than a year away, the ships’ return offers a glimmer of hope for the travel industry, which has had a huge hit during the pandemic.
The two ships, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista, arrived at the port around noon local time, and port officials had invited the public to celebrate their return.
Heather Luckey, a travel agent, told CNN she was brought to tears when she saw the ships arrive.
Another spectator in the harbor, Mike Welsch, told CNN that there were several hundred people watching the ships get down the canal.
“It was great to see them come back to Galveston,” Welsch said. “We can not wait to get on board one.”
Welsch captured this image of Carnival Vista.
“Based on historical economic impact annual statistics, losses are estimated at $ 1.2 billion in direct expenses, 23,000 jobs and $ 1.6 billion.
While cruise ships are still not allowed to sail with passengers from the US, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) last month with guidance on how it expects the industry to be able to resume sailing .
Several measures were outlined, including an increase from weekly to daily reporting of Covid-19 cases, implementation of routine test procedures for crew members, and establishment of a plan for vaccination of crew members and port staff.
The next phase of CSO guidance will include test voyages that allow crew and port staff to practice new Covid-19 operational procedures with volunteers before sailing with passengers, according to the CDC.
Rees added that the port has improved its cruise terminal to meet CDC standards and that it has invested around “$ 100,000 in improvements aimed at reducing the spread of the virus” at the two cruise terminals.
Breeze and Vista undergo maintenance while waiting in port for guidance from the CDC. Sunday night, the ships will also be lit with a special message when the sun goes down, according to Carnival.
CNN’s Jeremy Grisham contributed to this report.