GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Multiple entities have signed off this week on plans for at least one cruise line to return to service on the island, another step in the lengthy process to restore a crippled vacation industry here.
"It's looking very real that we're going to have cruising soon," said port operations director Brett Milutin.
Carnival's plans for service were approved by the port board, UTMB and the Galveston County Health Department. The cruise line company's plans were expected to be submitted this week to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Similar agreements with Royal Caribbean were expected to be approved this week.
The CDC has already given Royal Caribbean the green light to run test cruises, and it will be up to the federal agency on when service resumes.
According to multiple reports, the cruise company will be able to conduct these simulated cruises late next month using volunteer passengers.
The tests are required for any ship that is not guaranteeing most passengers and crew members will be vaccinated.
The approval is a significant step forward for the cruise industry, which has not been able to operate in the U.S. - its most lucrative market - since March 2020 after virus outbreaks and deaths on several ships.
Back in March, Royal Caribbean announced its first "fully vaccinated" cruises would depart Israel and sail to the Greek Islands starting this month.
In Galveston, plans for cruising to resume by July 3 are within reach, but port staff said during Tuesday's board meeting that it may be close.
If cruises resume then, port representatives said losses total around $44 million since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.