As pandemic lingers into late summer, local cruise lines brace for impact

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SAN DIEGO – Small businesses along the Embarcadero are bracing for impact as some cruise lines have announced decisions to suspend operations until late this year.

The cruise season, which typically ramps up in San Diego every September, has been sidelined this year following a CDC no-sail order lasting through the end of September due to the pandemic. But the industry as a whole took it a step further in announcing additional cancellations which are scheduled to run through early November.

Several companies have canceled travel plans as far out as mid-December.

“Every weekend we would be super, super busy and we would have the ships right in front of us,” said Reina Gonzales, an employee at Hazelwoods On The Bay on North Harbor Drive, a restaurant located not far from where cruise ships dock.

Officials from the Port of San Diego said they expected 450,000 passengers to come through this season; so far, 40 percent of them have been canceled on.

“Realistically, if you’re asking for San Diego specifically, I don’t think you’re going to see cruising resuming until 2021,” said Steward Chiron, known as the Cruise Guy with roughly 31 years in the industry and 276 trips.

He said the industry likely will come back slowly, a handful of cities at a time.

“They got to get all those cruise employees back from all those countries and that’s going to take time,” he said. “They will start with a few ships from a few ports, then continue to bring in new crew members, starts the four-to-five night sailings.

“Sailing to Hawaii, for example, could be a ways away right now.”

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