Cruise ships will return to the Port of San Francisco after a 19-month pandemic-induced hiatus, a move local officials say will bolster the California city’s economy.
The Majestic Princess, embarking from the Port of Los Angeles, made its way to San Francisco on Monday. It’s the first ship back to the Northern California port since more than 100 passengers aboard the Grand Princess were infected with the coronavirus in March 2020, causing thousands to quarantine on the ship.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement that the return of cruises is ‘another example of our city coming back to life and emerging from this pandemic stronger than ever before’.
‘I am so excited to welcome cruises back to our port,’ Breed said. ‘Tourism is a critical part of our city’s economy, helping to pay for important services that allow us to take care of our most vulnerable residents.’
CDC framework for cruises
- The CDC is requiring 95% of passengers aboard cruise ships to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
- Similarly, 98% of crew members must also be vaccinated against Covid-19.
- The CDC recommends all passengers and crew members be vaccinated.
- Several cruise lines, such as Norwegian and Virgin Voyages, are requiring all guests to be fully vaccinated before boarding, with no exceptions.
- Many lines that don’t mandate everyone be vaccinated before boarding have rigid testing and masking policies in place.
The port is expecting 21 cruise ships through the remainder of 2021 and a new record of 127 in 2022, the mayor said.
Breed hopes that the influx of ships sailing into town will give the city’s economy a much-needed boost.
When the largest ships dock in San Francisco, there can be more than 6,000 people arriving, between tourists, crewmembers and terminal workers.
More cruises mean more passengers disembarking into the city and supporting small and family-owned businesses, which were hit hard by the pandemic, the mayor said.
‘The return of cruises to and from San Francisco is an important step forward in our recovery and yet another positive sign for the City’s tourism and hospitality industry,’ said Joe D’Alessandro, the president and CEO of San Francisco Travel Association.
In 2019, San Francisco had 280,000 visitors just from cruise ships, which brought in $27million to the city’s economy.
San Francisco’s port is near some of the city’s best-known landmarks including Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 and the Ferry Building.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began ‘gradually’ rolling out cruises once again in July after the industry lost hundreds of millions of dollars per month letting its ships sit idly at sea.
Cruise operations are resuming in compliance with CDC guidelines, but all individual cruise lines sailing into the Port in San Francisco have agreed to additional coronavirus guidelines that exceed the CDC’s rules.
Princess Cruises will have all passengers aboard vaccinated. A negative Covid-19 test is also required, taken within two days of travel.
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