SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Last year, the pandemic brought cruise lines to a halt, severely impacting the industry and ports where ships dock, like San Diego.
Friday morning, the first ship to set sail from San Diego since the start of the pandemic was set to head to sea, as the Disney Wonder waited for passengers to board. Other cruise ships, such as the Grand Princess, have made stops in San Diego.
Passengers on the Grand Princess were eager to visit America's Finest City.
"You have to support the economy of San Diego, said passenger Mary Ty. "It's absolutely wonderful. We've been waiting forever to cruise again."
Ty said she plans to visit the San Diego Zoo and USS Midway Museum.
In the afternoon, the Nacona's were ready to board the Disney Wonder. The first time cruise family, had their five day excursion, canceled four times. Friday, was their fifth attempt, at an overdue birthday celebration.
Lila, the 10 year old birthday girl said, “I’m looking forward to making friendships and having fun, and running around and eating sweets, having good food, and just having fun.”
But before they took in the ocean air, all aboard 12 and older had to be fully vaccinated before boarding ship. All passengers also had to take a covid test 72 hours before setting sail.
Amanda NG, a passenger on the Disney Wonder shared, “I feel really good. We went to Disneyland maybe a month ago, and I felt safe so I feel like the cruise ship would be even better.”
The port expects about 100 cruise calls this season, with anywhere from 185,000 to 225,000 passengers, as the industry ramps back up.
"I think it's a long-awaited boost. Each cruise that begins and ends in San Diego is $2 million directly injected into the economy. One visit to San Diego is $600,000," said Deaton.
The boost to the local economy has been missed. According to the Port of San Diego, the loss of cruises caused the port to lose about $300 million during the pandemic.
"We haven't had a cruise ship sail out of San Diego since the beginning of the pandemic," said Adam Deaton, cruise business manager with the Port of San Diego. "It's actually one of the safest vacation options right now because you're going into a somewhat sterile environment."
Port officials furthered that they are cleaning and disinfecting after every arrival and departure. Some areas are plexi-glass protected, and hand sanitizer stations are placed throughout the cruise ship and terminal.
With three cruises at the dock, the last being the Holland America's Koningsdam which departs Saturday, the port is excited to more faces.
Passengers like Domenic Nacona, hoped the future is smooth sailing, “Hoping to just keep that momentum going, and keep these ships going, and keep the economy going, and keep the world opening back up and going again.”