Cruise ships arrive in San Diego

About 6,300 passengers expected

SAN DIEGO -  

Three cruise ships carrying a total of 6,300 tourists arrived in San Diego Thursday, giving a boost to the local tourism industry.
 
Holland America's Westerdam and Zuiderdam each carry around 1,900 passengers, while Princess Cruises' Star Princess has about 2,500 travelers aboard, according to the Port of San Diego.
 
San Diego's cruise business has slipped in recent years because of the faltering economy and fear of crime in Mexico, even though the global industry is expanding. But in a presentation to the City Council's Economic Development and Strategies Committee earlier this year, Port Commissioner Lee Burdick said it would rebound in the coming years.
 
Businesses along the Embarcadero noticed the arrival of the cruise ships the most. The Bay Cafe, which sat right in front of two of the massive ships, said it expected at least a 30 percent bump in business.
 
It was a pleasant and unfortunately rare day along the water.
 
"I didn't know this was unusual for you guys," said Erin Steffen of Sacramento, who rode into San Diego on the Star Princess.
 
"It's (the cruise ship industry) gone down about two-thirds, which isn't unusual for the industry as a whole," said Port of San Diego spokeswoman Tanya Castaneda.
 
Each port call results in an economic impact to San Diego of about $2 million, she said. Port officials estimate that 79 ships will stop in San Diego during the cruise season that continues through May of next year, bringing around 250,000 passengers.
 
San Diego used to get more than 200 cruise ships, and Port officials said it might be low numbers for at least two more years.
 
"And then in the next four years we should start seeing growth again," said Castaneda. "Combined, the restocking and refueling with the spending of all of those people makes a huge difference for a lot of businesses locally."
 
Port officials said they are studying the impacts cruise ships have on the local economy when they do not refuel and restock for their next voyage.
 
Three more vessels are scheduled to visit Friday:
 
-- Celebrity Century, with 2,000 passengers
-- Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess, carrying 2,500 passengers
-- Disney Wonder, bringing 2,700 passengers
 
The port warned that all the activity could cause congestion on North Harbor Drive along the waterfront.
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