After Covid Shutdown, Cruise Ships Return to San Francisco

Cruise ships were a symbol of the dangers of the coronavirus in 2020. But now, they’re getting ready for what could be a busy 2022 season.,


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After 18 months, the Port of San Francisco will once again welcome cruise ships.

The Grand Princess arriving in San Francisco Bay in February 2020.
The Grand Princess arriving in San Francisco Bay in February 2020.Credit…Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle, via Associated Press
  • Oct. 10, 2021, 1:30 p.m. ET

In the early days of the pandemic, a cruise ship that would become one of the bellwethers of the outbreak, the Grand Princess, docked in the Bay Area carrying dozens of infected passengers. It was one of the last cruise ships in the world to operate before the coronavirus caused a global shutdown.

Now, a year and a half later, cruise ships will once again embark and disembark at the Port of San Francisco.

On Monday, the Majestic Princess, which set off from the Port of Los Angeles, will be the first to dock in the Bay Area since the Grand Princess’s disastrous journey in March 2020.

London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco, said in a statement that she was “excited to welcome cruises back to our port, and visitors back to our city.”

The port is expecting 21 cruises to arrive in the remainder of the year, and a record 127 in 2022, according to the mayor’s office.

The return of cruises, Ms. Breed said, could help the city’s economy, which has been hurt by the loss of revenue from the thousands of tourists who come into the city from the ships.

When the largest ships dock, they bring more than 6,000 people to the city’s cruise terminal, according to the mayor’s office. Before the pandemic, port properties generated $4 billion a year for the city, $117 million for Northern California and over 16,000 jobs for San Francisco and Northern California combined, the city’s figures show.

During the pandemic, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, the three largest cruise companies in the world, lost nearly $900 million each month during the pandemic, according to Moody’s, the credit rating agency.

Cruise lines have now started to welcome back passengers for U.S. sailings, and this summer, demand outweighed supply.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided a detailed list of measures that cruise ships can take to reduce the spread of Covid, including requiring passengers to show proof of vaccination or to provide negative tests.

Joe D’Alessandro, the president of the San Francisco Travel Association, said in a statement that “the return of cruises to and from San Francisco is an important step forward in our recovery and yet another positive sign for the city’s tourism and hospitality industry.”

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