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Holland America Says Cruise Ships Coming Back To San Diego, Vaccinations Required

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria speaking in front of the Holland America cruise ship Koningsdam near the B Street Pier, June 21, 2021.
Matt Hoffman
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria speaking in front of the Holland America cruise ship Koningsdam near the B Street Pier, June 21, 2021.

Cruising is coming back to San Diego and COVID-19 vaccinations are at the heart of the industry's comeback.

"Guests being vaccinated and crews being vaccinated — that’s how this is all going to work," said Port of San Diego Board Commissioner Chairman Michael Zucchet.

Holland America Says Cruise Ships Coming Back To San Diego, Vaccinations Required
Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman

On Monday, 150 Holland America Line crew members were getting first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine courtesy of Sharp HealthCare. Holland America in September will start sailing out of San Diego to Mexico, Hawaii and along California's coast. Officials have been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bring the industry back, which has not had trips from San Diego since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020.

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"Clearly, with vaccination rates going up, infection rates going down the CDC feels like it’s time to start opening and working together we’ve come up with a way to do that in a safe way," said Holland America Line President Gus Antorcha.

Antorcha said CDC officials want crewmembers vaccinated and the company will only be allowing vaccinated passengers on it's cruises. Guests will need to provide proof of vaccinations before boarding.

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"Just like you show your passport, you’re going to show your vaccination card before embarkation," Antorcha said.

The port of San Diego estimates every cruise brings in around $2 million in revenue to the local economy.

"The passengers stay in our hotels, they eat in our restaurants and they shop in our stores," said San Diego Tourism Authority CEO Julie Coker.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria applauded the move, adding that San Diego open for tourism business.

"This is yet another sign in the resurgence of our economy post pandemic," he said.

Holland America ships can accommodate more than 2,500 passengers, but officials will gradually scale up capacity.

"Initially we’re going to start 50% to 60%," Antorcha said. "We’ll see between now and September and then we’ll take it up from there. I think by the fall we’ll be operating closer to 100%."

Over the last year cruise ships have been anchored off the coast of California, coming into port just once a month for fuel and supplies. There are four other cruise lines that operate here including Princess, Celebrity, Carnival and Disney. A port spokesperson said Carnival does not plan to have cruises out of San Diego this year.

"If we have 70 or 80 (cruise) calls this year that’s lower than pre-pandemic but it’s a good start in terms of getting back to business and recovering from zero," Zuccet said.

VIDEO: Holland America Says Cruises Are Coming Back To San Diego, Vaccinations Required