SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The largest cruise line out of San Diego set sail with hundreds of passengers on board Sunday.
It's Holland America Line's first voyage since the pandemic halted the cruise industry over a year and a half ago.
With masks on and suitcases in hand, passengers boarded Holland America's Koningsdam ship for a 7-day Mexcian Rivera cruise.
"We're excited to be back," Darlene Jordan said. "This is the best time to cruise because as you tell it's not a whole lot of people out here."
The Port of San Diego and Holland America celebrated the cruise line's first voyage in 19 months with a ribbon-cutting Sunday morning.
"We are back, cruise is back," Rafael Castellanos, the Port of San Diego Commissioner, said.
Castellanos said the region lost about $300 million due to the No Sail Order.
But he's optimistic about recovery.
He said cruise lines can bring in between $600,000 and as much as $2 million for San Diego-ported ships like Holland America.
Each ship visit directly contributes $364,000 to the local economy through vendors and other services.
"That's a major economic boom and to watch it all happen, the activity it's watching the symphony orchestra playing a masterpiece. Everyone doing their part," he said.
Cruises can also help restaurants and businesses nearby attracting visitors who travel across the country to board the ship.
James and Elaine Fries, flew in from Colorado a couple of days before the Holland America departure to explore San Diego.
"We were at dinner downtown last night and it was packed, it was thriving," James said. "It was fun to see like a city come to life again, instead of empty streets. It was great."
Passengers had to be vaccinated and show a negative COVID-19 test before boarding the ship.
Holland America also upgraded the ship's medical center to be able to test passengers