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Carnival cruises to welcome vaccinated passengers at Texas port in July

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 5:00 AM AKDT
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GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) - Cruise lines are starting to welcome passengers aboard once again.

That’s not just good for those companies. Businesses owners in Galveston are excited about voyages next month.

Carnival confirmed it’s planning to set sail in less than four weeks.

This will be the first cruise to leave the island since the pandemic hit.

“We’re excited, of course!” said Cynthia Tompkins of EZ Cruise Parking and Port Parking.

“We’re very excited. It’s bittersweet. We have been waiting for this for a year and a half,” her husband Charles Tompkins said.

The couple owns a cruise parking lot businesses, an industry hit hard during the pandemic.

“We sold our house. Let’s see, what else could I list?” Cynthia Tompkins said.

“We’ve done a lot,” Charles Tompkins said.

They aren’t the only ones impacted. More than 3,600 jobs are tied to the cruise industry in the Galveston area.

The port says it’s lost $44 million since last March. That’s why it’s anxious to welcome the first passengers.

“You can look at it like you’re getting ready for a baseball game,” said Rodger Rees, Port of Galveston director. “We’ve got to practice, so what we’re doing is we’re getting ready to practice on how the cruise days are going to go with the new protocols.”

One of the big protocols announced by Carnival this week is all passengers must show COVID-19 vaccination proof.

Royal Caribbean, which plans to sail in August, isn’t asking for the proof.

However, port leaders say this could change.

As regulations are finalized, business owners hope this is the light they’ve been waiting for.

“Hurricane Ike didn’t put us out. All the other hurricanes didn’t put us out, but this COVID did,” Cynthia Tompkins said.

It’s devastatingly long wait the local cruise industry is ready to see sail behind them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set guidelines for cruises to resume, but it will be up to each cruise line to determine vaccine requirements.

Copyright 2021 KTRK via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.