Carnival cruise ships return to Galveston port after hiatus due to COVID-19

Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista have returned to Texas’ only cruise port

Carnival Radiance.

Two of Carnival’s massive cruise ships have returned to the Port of Galveston after a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two ships, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista arrived Sunday afternoon just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on when companies can resume sailing.

The CDC initially blocked cruise ships from U.S. ports with a no-sail order in March 2020 just as the health crisis began to take hold of the U.S. and as boats reported virus outbreaks.

John Heald, a brand ambassador and senior cruise director of Carnival Cruise Lines, wrote in a Facebook post that the return is “yet another massive step forward in the return of cruising and there will be more homecomings in the days ahead.”

The Port of Galveston is the fourth most popular cruise port in the country and the only cruise port in Texas, according to Rodger Rees, the Galveston Wharves port director and CEO.

Because of the pandemic, Rees said in an April letter that losses are estimated at $1.2 billion in direct spending.

“Suspension of cruising from Galveston has resulted in huge losses for the Texas economy and families who rely on this industry,” he said.

Rees added that the port is “ready” to start accommodating travelers again, saying the port invested $100,000 in health and safety upgrades.

The CDC issued new guidelines last week that state companies have to meet certain benchmarks in order to resume operations in mid-July.

CDC officials said that it will let ships cruise — without going through practice trips first — if 98% of the crew and 95% of the passengers are fully vaccinated.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.