Cruise ships return to Galveston for first time in 14 months, could possibly set sail in this summer

An exciting day in Galveston as two cruise ships are now docked at the port, potentially setting sail in July after a 14-month hiatus. 

"We're excited to see some sign of things coming back to normal," said Anite Hiser, a Nassau Bay resident. 

Nearly 500 people waited eagerly at the Port of Galveston Sunday afternoon to watch the Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze arrive on dock for the first time since April 2020.

For some, the sight of the cruise ships feels like a welcome home.

"It is so exciting. It's like we are going home. Our friends are here, we want to get on the ship. We're so excited," said Sherry Atkinson, a Texas City resident. 

"I really think it's going to be very safe. Wearing masks, having some dividers, not being right up on people. I think it's going to make a big difference," Atkinsons continued. 

In addition to updated pandemic safety measures onboard, the CDC recently said cruises can resume operations as early as July, as long as most crew members and passengers onboard get their COVID-19 vaccine.

"There's about 350 crew members between both ships, the Breeze and the Vista, that will be heading over to cruise terminal 1 tomrrow with the county health officials as well as UTMB to begin the vaccination process," said Rodger Rees, CEO of Port of Galveston. 

Rees says the last year has been extremely challenging with tens of millions of dollars, lost in revenue.

The money was supposed to give the nearly 200-year-old port, a much-needed makeover.

"I mean we've lost $40 million over this time period in gross revenues and that's tough on us and not to mention the revenues, but also the jobs. I think the money has really set us back with our road plans. We had a master plan in place and we've kinda had to put that on hold," Rees said. 

The Port of Galveston is the fourth most popular cruise homeport in the country.

Experts say Galveston's cruise business generates $1.6 billion dollars in expenditures every year and also boasts about 27,000 jobs statewide.

On Monday, the Federal Maritime Commission, Carnival Cruise executives, along with Galveston officials will be hosting a news conference to discuss the return of cruises in Galveston.