(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.
Heather Luckey, a travel agent, told CNN she was in tears when she saw the ship arrive.
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.”
Welch photographed this Carnival Vista.
Courtesy of @mikewelsch
“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.
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.
CNN’s Jeremy Grisham contributed to this report.