Home https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Business https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Carnival cruise ships return to Galveston, Texas, harbor for the first time in over a year

Carnival cruise ships return to Galveston, Texas, harbor for the first time in over a year

(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.

“We are SO excited to finally have our ships at home,” reads a Facebook post from the Port of Galveston. “We have received approval to give the community access to the quay between Cruise Terminal 1
and 2 for this special event.”

Heather Luckey, a travel agent, told CNN she was brought to tears when she saw the ships arrive.

“It’s a symbolic sign that the journey is coming back,” she said. “We’re at the head of a travel boom, and I’m here for it!”

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.”

Carnival Vista in Galveston, Texas, May 2, 2021.

Welsch captured this image of Carnival Vista.

Regards @mikewelsch

The ships left the port in April 2020, according to CNN’s affiliated KTRK, when the pandemic stopped cruises. Many Texas companies rely on the cruise industry. The Port of Galveston is the fourth most popular cruise port in North America and the only cruise port in Texas according to the Carnival Cruise Line.
“Suspension of the Galveston cruise has resulted in huge losses for the Texas economy and families who trust this industry,” Rodger Rees, port of Galveston CEO, said in a press release in April.

“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.

“This multi-billion dollar industry is the ONLY industry banned by the federal government, even as other sectors of travel, tourism and hospitality have opened or continue to operate throughout the pandemic,” the letter reads.

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.

“Their intentions are to stay here, occupy and perform some work on the ships,” Rees told KTRK. “So they’ll be here when it’s time to start the cruise and we hope it’s fast.”

CNN’s Jeremy Grisham contributed to this report.

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