It must have been a sight for sore eyes this week for those trying their best to stop a return of the cruise industry in the United States. Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze arrived in the Port of Galveston, and what a warm welcome it has been!
Hundreds of Carnival Cruise Line fans lined the quayside, and Bay Houston Towing Company Tugboat Wesley A and the Texas City Pilot boat welcomed the vessels with a water cannon. Afterward, a small ceremony was held where several key stakeholders of the cruise industry had their say, including Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy.
America’s Cruise Line Stays in America
As we reported a few weeks ago, it was always a gamble for Carnival Cruise Line not to take the same route as the competition did. Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and others have been steadily taking their ships out of the United States.
You can watch the cruise rally event in the video below:
Christine Duffy has been adamant that she would keep America’s cruise line Carnival Cruise ships right where they belong, and so she did. While others have re-deployed, we will see the majority of Carnival’s ships sail from Florida and Galveston within two months, it seems.
Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line:
Carnival cruise line started bringing ships to Galveston in 2000, so it is really a very important homeport for our brand. I like to say carnival cruise line is America’s cruise line. We sail from 14 US homeports around this country. We keep our ships in these communities and these ports year-round; we consider this their home.
Carnival Cruise Line canceled more than 2,600 cruises in the last 14 months, which impacted more than 4 million passengers.
Duffy said she had been overwhelmed and thankful for the support and dedication from the crew who has been waiting for so long to come back to work and welcome passengers on board and people like Louis Sola, the federal Maritime commissioner, governors, and members of the Senate.
She also touched briefly on the more negative politicians that have worked against a return of cruising:
This is a bi-partisan issue; it is about jobs. Putting the cruise lines aside, what we have been dealing with from this crisis, there is a real opportunity; the cruise industry matters in this country; it matters to the ports and the community and the small businesses and the travel agents and people.
What we’ve seen in recent weeks has been overwhelming support for the cruise industry to return. In fact, in the same week that politicians spoke out against a return to cruising, the CDC released the letter that lets cruises resume again by mid-July.
Before that happens, though, the cruise industry will want to have at least the crew onboard vaccinated, which has been happening already in cooperation with Galveston Port and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).
Duffy: “We need to get our crews vaccinated.”
The cruise industry might be heading for a mid-July restart, but many details need to be worked out before that happens. Not in the least is the question of crew vaccinations. While Carnival Cruise Line has not specified yet if they will require guests to be vaccinated, crew vaccinations will most likely be a way of life for the crew onboard.
To that effect, the cruise line has been working with the Port of Galveston and the University of Texas to start vaccinating crew members onboard the ships.
We are so grateful for the University of Texas medical branch who will provide vaccinations for our crew members on these ships starting this afternoon. And that’s possible because of the great partnership that we’re now developing with the University of Texas, and also the recognition that we too are an extension of the Galveston community. And we all know COVID-19 doesn’t respect any sort of boundaries or borders. So in order for us to restart, we needed to get our crews vaccinated.
Carnival Vista is currently set to begin cruises from July 3, starting with a week-long cruise to Mahogany Bay, Belize, and Cozumel. Carnival Breeze will kickstart her operations on July 1 with short cruises to Cozumel, Mexico.
It’s certainly been a roller coaster these last few weeks, from an outlook that started to lean towards a restart in November to suddenly having the possibility to restart cruises in July. In the end, it looks like Christine Duffy made the correct choice to keep the Carnival ships inside the United States.
How the story progresses from here on is something that we will see in the upcoming weeks. However, judging by the overwhelming welcome of hundreds of Carnival fans on the pier this week in Galveston, the ships will be welcome in Texas anytime!