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Cruise ships dock at San Diego Port amid CDC warning for cruises

Posted at 5:36 PM, Dec 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 21:38:41-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — "That's a tough-y," shared Jerry Peterson.

It's a sentiment that he and others along the San Diego Port express, after two ships docked amid the CDC's latest recommendation, warning passengers to not board cruise ships even if they are fully vaccinated and boosted.

"I had to think about that a little bit," he added. "But when you put that many people together it's bound to have an effect."

Benjamin Abergel, 12, who is visiting San Diego with his family, said, "Well it all goes to the opinion what they think. Should I go? Should I not go? But I think if you check the safety precautions you should be fine overall."

Families from near and far have booked their cruise trips, before the new guidance was released.

Cheryl Cavanagh and her husband set sail from Sacramento abroad the Princess Cruise Lines, Ruby Princess, and docked in San Diego on Friday. They said the ship can hold roughly 3,500 guests but from what they could witness Friday, only had about 700 passengers on board. Cavanagh emphasized that masks are asked to be worn in any indoor spaces on the ship.

"The crew members, they are not allowed to get off at the stops and so we know they have been tested every three days and we were boosted, vaccinated, and then tested right before we left," she said. "So we are really comfortable actually."

Sunday, a Holland America Cruise ship with 21 infected crew members docked at the San Diego Port. The cruise line plans to have two more of their cruise ships dock at the port on Monday. They shared this statement with ABC 10News below:

"As for Holland America Line, with the latest update from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on cruise travel, we will continue to operate our cruises as scheduled with the safety of our guests, crew members and communities we visit top of mind.

Cruise ships offer a highly controlled environment with science-backed measures, known testing and vaccination levels far above other venues or modes of transportation and travel, and significantly lower incidence rates than land.

Here is some background on our protocols and what we’ve been doing:

Holland America Line is fully prepared to manage positive cases on board with minimal interruption to the overall cruise vacation. Some port substitutions or cancellations may occur due to decisions by local authorities, but our cruises are operating on schedule and continuing to deliver a great guest experience.

According to the CDC, current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant.

This aligns with the minimal positive cases we have seen on board, with most showing mild or no symptoms and requiring no intensive medical attention.

Since the resumption of Holland America Line’s cruise operations in July, we have successfully maintained an overall healthy and safe environment onboard our ships.

All Holland America Line ships operate under the CDC Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) as vaccinated cruises, which includes CDC-approved protocols and guidelines.

All crew and guests five years and older are fully vaccinated. Crew receive boosters as soon as eligible and are tested frequently for infection. All guests provide a medically supervised negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding the ship. In addition, current operating procedures require all team members and guests to wear a mask in all indoor areas, and all areas are frequently disinfected.

Holland America Line will continue to monitor this situation with our medical staff and will take any additional actions needed. It’s important to note that our aggressive protocols of vaccination, testing, mask-wearing, etc. have been in place for several months. We are recommending that guests get booster shots. And we have been actively providing boosters for crew when they become eligible for a booster."

However, the CDC, said because of the close quarters on cruises, COVID-19 can spread easily, making the chance of infection higher.

Cavanagh shared her reaction after reading the CDC guidance, while she was already cruising, "It was kind of weird but we thought we would take the chance."

Cavanagh added that she feels safe on board the ship.

"You know we are all vaccinated, we are doing our best, you gotta live life," she said.

San Diego's Port telling ABC 10News that no cancellations or outbreaks have been reported this week, but the guidance does bring a concern to our local economy.

The port said since March 2020 to this October, there was a loss of $300 million in regional impact. A canceled ship visiting for the day results in a regional loss of $600,000. If a voyage that starts and ends in San Diego is canceled, the regional loss is $2 million.

"I've been an avid cruiser my whole life," Megan McKinzie, a Monterrey resident, said. "So it's sad to see but I understand why people are apprehensive but I hope that they can come back around and it can continue to be a sustained industry for our region and area."

However many like Peterson, agree with the CDC.

"For right now caution is the way to go," Peterson said.