Cruise ships depart San Diego on first trips since spring 2020

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SAN DIEGO — Friday marks the return of the cruise industry in San Diego with ships departing the port on the first trips since spring 2020.

The Disney Wonder was set to leave San Diego Friday on a four-day cruise to Cabo San Lucas and back. A second ship, the Grand Princess, was scheduled to make a port call in San Diego Friday after departing Los Angeles for Ensenada on Sept. 30.

The Port of San Diego says crew members and eligible guests must be fully vaccinated, one of the many measures ports and cruise lines are taking in an effort to curb COVID-19. Children and those with medical exemptions must provide negative PCR test results between three days and 24 hours before embarking, port leadership said in a news release.

The first voyages to carry passengers to or from San Diego since the industry shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic also mean the return of a large source of revenue for the region. More than 170 scheduled cruise calls were canceled since March of last year, according to FOX 5 news partner San Diego Union-Tribune, which translated to an economic loss of nearly $300 million.

San Diego is California’s third busiest cruise port behind Long Beach and Los Angeles, according to the port, and each voyage that begins and ends in San Diego has an estimated economic impact of $2 million. One stop on a cruise itinerary generates up to almost $600,000, according to port leadership.

The port anticipates more than 100 cruise calls through May 2022, primarily from Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Disney Cruise Line.

Coronavirus measures in place for the return of cruises in San Diego include:

  • All crew members and eligible guests must be fully vaccinated (currently ages 12 and up; in special and rare cases, medical exemptions may be allowed, but Celebrity, Holland America, and Princess must maintain that at least 95% of all guests are vaccinated; Disney Cruise Line will be testing all guests on embarkation days).
  • All unvaccinated guests must provide negative PCR test results between three days and 24 hours before embarkation day.
  • All persons must complete a health screening form to declare they have been vaccinated, are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, and had a recent negative COVID-19 test result (if pre-testing was required by the cruise line).
  • All persons must wear a face covering while inside the cruise ship terminal.
  • Whenever possible while in the cruise terminals, all persons are strongly encouraged to social distance from persons not in their own traveling party.
  • To prevent an influx of passengers and to help ensure social distancing, the cruise lines have implemented a passenger appointment system for check-in/screening times.
  • The port will be fully cleaning and disinfecting the terminals immediately following each embarkation and disembarkation, plexiglass partitions have been installed in some areas, and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the terminals.

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