Home / Business / Carnival returns to Galveston, Texas for the first time in a year.

Carnival returns to Galveston, Texas for the first time in a year.

(CNN) – Two Carnival cruise ships returned to Port Galveston in Texas on Sunday.

After more than a year, the ship’s return brings glimmer of hope for the tourism industry, which was hugely popular during the epidemic.

The two ships, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista, arrived at the port around noon local time and port officials invited residents to celebrate their return.

“We are very excited to get our boat home,” read Port of Galveston’s Facebook post. “We have been approved to allow public community access to ports between cruise terminals 1
and 2 for this special event.”

Heather Luckey, a travel agent, told CNN she was in tears when she saw the ship arrive.

“It’s a sign that the journey is coming back,” she said. “We are in the beginning of a booming tour and I’m here for it!”

Another viewer at the pier, Mike Welsch, told CNN hundreds of people were watching the boats descend down the riverbed.

“It’s great that they are back in Galveston,” Welch said. “We can’t wait to get on the plane.”

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

Welch photographed this Carnival Vista.

Courtesy of @mikewelsch

The ship left the port in April 2020, according to CNN subsidiary KTRK due to the outbreak of the disease. Many Texas businesses are dependent on the cruise industry. Galveston Port is the fourth most popular cruise port in North America and the only cruise port in Texas according to Carnival Cruise Line.
“Suspension of cruise ships from Galveston has resulted in significant losses to the Texas economy and the families that depend on the industry,” said Rod Jerryis, CEO of Port Galveston. At a news conference in April

“Based on past annual economic impact statistics, an estimated $ 1.2 billion loss in direct spending, 23,000 jobs and $ 1.6 billion in state-wide wages.”

While cruise ships are still not allowed to sail with passengers from the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their Conditional Navigation Order (CSO) last month with advice on how to expect. The industry will be able to return to navigation.

Several measures have been put in place, including an increase from daily weekly reporting on COVID-19 cases, the implementation of routine testing procedures for crew members, and a plan for vaccination of crew and port personnel.

The CSO’s next step will include a trial trip that will allow crew and port staff to train new Covid-19 operations with volunteers before sailing with passengers.

“This multibillion-dollar industry is the only one the federal government has banned from operating, even as other sectors of travel, tourism and hospitality opened or operated throughout the epidemic,” read the letter.

Rees added that the port has renovated its cruise ports to meet CDC standards and has invested approximately “$ 100,000 in improvements to reduce the spread of the virus” at both ports.

Breeze and Vista will be maintained while waiting at the dock for CDC guidance on Sunday night, the ship will light up with a special message when the sun goes down, according to Carnival.

“Their intention is to stay here and work on the boat,” Reese 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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