Cruise comeback: San Diego’s largest cruise line sets sail for 1st time since start of pandemic

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SAN DIEGO — For the first time since the start of the pandemic, cruises are back and ready to deploy out of the Port of San Diego.

“We are back, the cruise is back, and the Port of San Diego is known around the world for its cruise experience,” said Rafael Castellano, Port of San Diego Commissioner.

The Holland America Line, San Diego’s largest cruise ship line, is operating on vaccinated voyages.

President of Holland America Line Gus Antorcha said all passengers and staff have to be fully vaccinated before setting sail.

“They have had to have the last dose 14 days prior to embarkation and then there is testing protocols as well,” Antorcha said.

Passengers must also show proof of a negative COVID test 48 before embarking. While on board, passengers will notice COVID protocols and procedures around the ship.

“We require masks to be worn in certain parts of the ship, but we have also made upgrades to our medical center,” Antorcha said. “We have handling systems with UV lighting and filtration that we have improved.”

Antorcha added the ships’ medical centers have full testing capabilities and a team of doctors and nurses on board.

Among other industries, the pandemic caused cruise ships to come to a complete halt for several months, causing a major economic loss.

“We lost about $300 million in the San Diego region because of the pandemic and the cruise business decline,” Castellano said.

According to Castellano, each cruise ship brings around $600,000 to $2 million to the San Diego region.

“In the cruise season when the pandemic first hit, we had less cruise calls scheduled than we have this season, so the demand is tremendous,” Castellano said.

The Port of San Diego is anticipating over 100 “calls,” also known as stops for the 2021-2022 season.

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