Galveston officials urge quick cruise ship comeback

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As Spring Break 2021 kicks off in a much different way than last year, there's a renewed push to bring cruises back to Galveston.

Small business owners and workers rallied in Galveston Friday for jobs related to the cruise ship industry. They said a year of COVID-19 cancellations is enough.

Port of Galveston CEO Rodger Rees said he's concerned cruises won't return to the island until Fall 2021.

"The cruise lines have now been cruising in Europe since the end of June," Rees said. "It's been pretty uneventful following the protocols, and we're hopeful that's what's going to happen here in the states."

Galveston is the fourth most popular cruise port in North America and took a major hit with the 2020 cancellation of cruises.

In Oct. 2020, the CDC issued guidance on resuming cruise ship passenger operations that included testing, quarantine and isolation requirements. The federal agency also planned to dedicate a laboratory team to cruise ship COVID-19 testing oversight.

"We're asking the CDC to no longer put a moratorium on cruising, because it really affects our port, our jobs, our community and the job base here in Galveston," said Port of Galveston Wharves chairman Albert Shannon.

Friday's rally came as Royal Caribbean International announced it would build a $100 million cruise terminal at the Port of Galveston's Pier 10. Construction is expected to begin in April.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Port of Galveston officials expected to bring in $38 million in revenue for the fiscal year.

The Galveston Economic Impact Report estimates the cruise industry is responsible for more than 2,500 jobs in the region.

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