Cruises to and from San Francisco are expected to return on Monday with a record number of port calls expected for the upcoming year, Mayor London N. Breed and the Port of San Francisco announced Friday. The return comes after a 19-month cruise hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and arrives with updated health protocols.
"I am so excited to welcome cruises back to our Port, and visitors back to our City," Breed said in a statement. "Tourism is a critical part of our City's economy, helping to pay for important services that allow us to take care of our most vulnerable residents."
The Majestic Princess will be the first vessel to call on the Port of San Francisco since the pandemic's closure, and is part of 21 cruise ship calls expected at the Port throughout the rest of the year, the announcement said. And in 2022, a record 127 calls are expected to call on the Port — which in 2019 contributed $27 million to San Francisco's economy and is one of the only passenger cruise terminals in the Bay Area.
According to the announcement, cruises will resume "safely in strict compliance with all applicable U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rules and regulations."
Updated health protocols will now require passengers at the Port's Cruise Terminals at Pier 27 and Pier 35 to embark and disembark in a staggered fashion to avoid crowding. Masks will also be required of passengers while indoors throughout the now "touchless" terminals, the announcement said. Each cruise line also has agreements with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and specific health and safety guidelines.
"Our City has shown that with high levels of vaccinations and the right safety protocols in place, we can open up businesses and bring back tourism while mitigating the spread of COVID-19," San Francisco's director of health Dr. Grant Colfax said. "The return of passenger cruises to San Francisco is another step forward in that direction."
In March 2020, Californiaits first coronavirus-related death. Less than two weeks before, the 71-year-old had disembarked from the Grand Princess Cruise ship, which was supposed to dock in San Francisco. The vessel instead was held off the coast until all other passengers were tested for COVID-19. Following the death, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency.
The CDC on March 14, 2020, issued a 30-day "No Sail Order" that stopped cruises from the U.S. amid COVID-19. The was then extended for months as COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to rise. In October 2020, the CDC issued framework for a phased reopening of cruises in the country.
In June, thecruise ship became the first to leave a U.S. port since the pandemic's closure from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Joe D'Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association, said the city's return is "yet another positive sign."
"Passengers aboard the Majestic Princess will be warmly welcomed to San Francisco this coming Monday," he said. "The return of cruises to and from San Francisco is an important step forward in our recovery."