In a sign that things are slowly returning to normal, two Carnival Cruise Lines ships dock at the port of Galveston, Texas, on Sunday.
The docks have been shut down for over a year after the entire cruise industry came to a halt.
The Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista arrived around noon with port officials inviting the public to celebrate their return.
Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista arrived at the port of Texas on Sunday
Cruise ships dock in Galveston harbor for the first time in a year
Both ships have a special message decked out in lights
Carnival hopes to spur the CDC into action and ease restrictions so cruising can begin
Members of the public were invited to attend, while those in attendance stood behind a barrier
‘We are SO excited that our ships are finally back home. We have been granted permission to allow the community to access the dock between cruise terminals 1 and 2 for this special event, ”said a Facebook post from the Port of Galveston.
The ships were last in port in April 2020, until the pandemic brought cruises to a halt.
Suspension of cruises from Galveston has resulted in massive losses to the Texas economy and to families relying on this industry. Based on annual statistics with historical economic impact, losses are estimated at $ 1.2 billion in direct spending, 23,000 jobs and $ 1.6 billion in statewide wages, ” wrote Rodger Rees, CEO of Port of Galveston. earlier this month.
The ships are the first to stay in Texas’s only cruise terminal since late April 2020
Liners are still not allowed to pick up passengers on cruises that are still restricted by federal health ordinances preventing sailing during the coronavirus pandemic
Rees explained how the port’s cruise terminal has been upgraded to meet CDC guidelines by “investing $ 100,000 in improvements designed to reduce the spread of the virus.”
Both the Breeze and Vista are now undergoing maintenance while waiting in port for further guidance from the CDC.
“Their intention is to stay here, crew and do some work on the ships,” said Rees KTRK. “So they’ll be here when it’s time to go cruising, and we hope it goes soon.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced earlier this month (above) at the Port of Miami that he was filing a lawsuit demanding that cruise ships be allowed to resume immediately.
In April, Rees joined Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in an open letter to the CDC to allow July cruising.
“This multi-billion dollar industry is the ONLY industry banned by the federal government from operating even if other sectors of travel, tourism and hospitality have opened or continue to operate during the pandemic,” the letter read.
On Wednesday, the CDC said cruise ships could resume from mid-summer if they can prove that 98 percent of their crew and 95 percent of their passengers have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The agency announced new requirements to get the cruise industry back on track by mid-July, a week after Alaska joined the Florida lawsuit requiring ships to resume sailing immediately.
Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Navigator of the Sea docked in Port Miami. The CDC has said cruise ships can resume from mid-summer if they can prove that 98 percent of their crew and 95 percent of their passengers have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Cruise lines were asked to submit their plans “ as soon as possible to keep the timeline of passenger travel in mid-July. ”
Test and quarantine regulations will also be updated before the industry starts over.
The cruise industry is one of Florida’s largest tourism industries, with 8 million passengers traveling from Florida in 2019, before the pandemic hit.
The Cruise Lines International Association estimates an estimated 150,000 jobs are created in the state, including dependent jobs at hotels, restaurants, and airlines, generating nearly $ 8 billion in wages, according to Cruise Lines International Association estimates.
When the industry came to a halt, the state’s economy was badly hit, with the first six months of the pandemic costing an estimated $ 3.2 billion in economic activity, according to the Federal Maritime Commission.
The CDC stopped sailing last March when outbreaks broke out on ships. Pictured this month a Norwegian Gem cruise ship docked in the Port of Miami in Miami Beach
Cruise ships quickly became hotbeds for the virus when it first began to devastate the world last spring, and several ships were rejected by ports refusing to disembark sick patients.
The cruise industry and the CDC came under fire for their slow response amid the pandemic as ships continued to sail out to sea, even after a series of outbreaks on board and repeated warnings that the large numbers of people in enclosed spaces have made them breeding grounds for the virus.
Fears for cruise ship passengers and crew first rose in February when hundreds tested positive for the Diamond Princess after Japanese authorities imposed a lockdown in Yokohama and ordered the ship to stay offshore for two weeks.
More than 700 people tested positive and 14 died after boarding the ship.
Passengers were locked in their cabins during the lockdown, but several countries eventually lost patience with Japan and brought their citizens home.
Fears for cruise ship passengers and crew first rose in February when hundreds tested positive on the Diamond Princess (above) after Japanese authorities imposed a lockdown in Yokohama and ordered the ship to stay two weeks offshore
A passenger waves as she walks with others on the deck of the Diamond Princess cruise ship in February. More than 700 people tested positive and 14 died after boarding the ship
Despite the warning signs, on March 7, 2020, it was still business as usual with companies reporting additional cleanup measures being taken and then Vice President Mike Pence told Americans it was “ safe for healthy Americans to travel. ”
The next day – about a month after the Diamond Princess outbreak – the CDC issued guidelines that Americans do not travel on cruise ships.
Several ships still left after this time, and four days later the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
On March 13, 2020, more than 50 cruise lines finally announced that they were suspending operations to and from US ports for 30 days, and the CDC issued an exit order in US waters the next day.
Ports subsequently refused ships permission to dock, leaving passengers and crew stranded during outbreaks.
In August, the US Coast Guard said it was still monitoring 36 cruise ships berthed in US ports with 24,300 crew on board and 42 cruise ships in transit in US waters with 36,500 crew on board. ABC news.