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Cruise Ships Will Begin Returning To San Diego This Week Without Passengers

The Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship docks at the Port of San Diego Cruise Ship ...

Photo by Mike Damron

Above: The Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship docks at the Port of San Diego Cruise Ship Terminal in downtown San Diego on March 30, 2020.

Cruise ships are scheduled to return to the Port of San Diego this week and through the new year, as part of an effort by the cruise lines to reestablish ships in U.S. waters as a prerequisite to resume cruising in a post-COVID-19 world, it was announced Monday.

Five Holland America Line ships and one Princess Cruises ship are scheduled to arrive beginning Wednesday, periodically docking at the B Street Cruise Terminal for fuel, food, supplies and services. At this time, none of the vessels will be carrying passengers or conducting any sailings, according to local port officials.

To resume cruises after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deems it safe in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the ships must reestablish operations in United States waters to meet CDC and U.S. Coast Guard guidelines.

According to port officials, time spent docked in San Diego will be limited. Each ship is scheduled to dock at B Street the morning of their scheduled arrival date and depart that evening.

The Holland America Line ships are scheduled to remain in the San Diego area and may be visible off the coast, with some periodically positioning in the outer anchorage just outside of San Diego Bay off the coast of Coronado. After their initial arrival, each HAL ship plans to periodically return to the B Street Cruise Terminal to refuel and/or to resupply or receive services. The Emerald Princess is scheduled to go to Los Angeles after its Dec. 24 visit, but port officials stressed that vessel schedules may change.

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Crew members aboard the vessels will not be allowed off unless as part of crew changes with plans and procedures reviewed and approved by the CDC, Coast Guard, Customs and Border Patrol and county Health and Human Services. All crew members will be regularly tested for COVID-19 and health procedures will be followed in the event of an infection.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on San Diego's tourism industry, including 119 canceled cruises since March, representing a loss of roughly $200 million in regional economic activity, impacting local businesses and government. The Port's cruise industry supports jobs, including in retail, restaurant and lodging; transportation, trucking and warehousing; ship agents and stevedoring; and security and manpower services.

The current arrival schedule is:

— Dec. 23: Holland America Koningsdam;

— Dec. 24: Princess Cruises Emerald Princess;

— Dec. 28: Holland America Westerdam;

— Dec. 30: Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam;

— Jan. 8: Holland America Zuiderdam; and

— Jan. 11: Holland America Noordam.

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