After taking a hiatus due to COVID-19 health mandates, cruise ships are once again returning to San Francisco, city leaders and San Francisco Port officials announced Friday.
The first cruise ship, the Majestic Princess, is set to arrive on Monday.
With the cruise ship terminals now open, port officials are expecting 21 total cruise calls through the end of this year, as well as 127 calls in 2022 — a record number.
According to city officials, cruise ships are vital to the city’s economy, brining thousands of passengers and crew members to the city’s waterfront to patronize the area’s small businesses.
In 2019, the city welcomed 280,000 cruise ship visitors, contributing some $27 million to the city’s economy.
“I am so excited to welcome cruises back to our Port, and visitors back to our city,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “Tourism is a critical part of our city’s economy, helping to pay for important services that allow us to take care of our most vulnerable residents. This announcement is just another example of our city coming back to life and emerging from this pandemic stronger than ever before.”
All ships arriving will be required to adhere to health guidelines mandated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including requiring that all passengers and crew members are vaccinated.
In addition, the Port has reached agreements with all cruise ship operators on safety mandates that exceed federal guidelines. Under the new health guidelines, passengers at the port’s Cruise Terminals at Pier 27 and 35 will be staggered when embarking and disembarking to minimize passengers crowding. Also, the piers will be a “touchless environment,” and masks will be required indoors, port officials said.
Port executive director Elaine Forbes said, “We are proud to work with public health agencies to ensure cruise will return safely, exceeding CDC guidelines, to keep our waterfront community healthy and economically vibrant.”
“Our city has shown that with high levels of vaccinations and the right safety protocols in place, we can open up businesses and bring back tourism while mitigating the spread of COVID-19. The return of passenger cruises to San Francisco is another step forward in that direction,” San Francisco Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said.
San Francisco remains the Bay Area’s only passenger cruise terminal.
Back in April 2020, at the start of the pandemic, the Grand Princess cruise ship spent nearly three weeks anchored in the Bay after 21 people aboard initially tested positive for COVID-19. Ultimately 103 people on board tested positive, and two passengers and one crew member died.