Passengers start packing as cruise industry intensifies at ports in LA, Long Beach – Daily Breeze
After a 15-month coronavirus-induced shutdown that rocked the industry and choked travel lovers, potential passengers, cruise passengers and dozens of vacation-hungry Americans are preparing to sail again from the end of summer and through fall – including in Southern California.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are working or have already signed agreements with the companies to allow their ships to dock. The agreements require a threshold of 95% of passengers and crew vaccinated per trip.
The Carnival Panorama departs from Long Beach on August 21, marking the long-awaited launch of cruises from this port.
In the Port of Los Angeles, the Grand Princess will depart on a seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera on September 25.
Long Beach port commissioners approved a deal with Carnival Cruise Lines at their meeting earlier this week. Port of Los Angeles officials, meanwhile, are in talks with Princess and other cruise lines, including opening talks with Royal Caribbean.
The 95% threshold, a rule from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allows children and others with the exception of a doctor to be allowed on board, along with other additional protocols and restrictions. Testing will be part of these protocols and masks will be required when getting on and off ships, but vaccinated passengers will not have to wear masks on board.
âThe cruise lines during this time really worked on the ventilation systems and filters and on the tracing of contracts,â said Carl Dreizler, who heads findacruisedeal.com and kept his Redondo Beach office open throughout the pandemic.
It has been a year gone by with cancellations, new bookings, more cancellations as the pandemic lingered and arranging credits and refunds on behalf of its customers.
âWe were working almost as hardâ as usual, he said, âbut not making any money. “
Cruise lines are strict on proof of vaccination, Dreizler said. He has heard complaints from people who have had COVID-19 and think a vaccination is not necessary, but there are no exceptions, Dreizler said.
For avid cruise vacationers like Mel and Leony Filler of Redondo Beach, it’s not too early to get back on the water.
They have already signed up for two cruises, including the Princess Majestic’s seven-day California Coastal Tour from the Port of Los Angeles in October.
âWe have another cruise scheduled for August next year,â said Mel Filler, 82, a retired engineer for Hughes Electronics in Torrance. âIt’s a little more elaborate; we fly to New York and embark on a cruise ship that runs along the Canadian coast to Greenland. This is a place we have never been to.
Leony Filler, 77, is a retired real estate accountant in Hermosa Beach and the couple have traveled frequently for 20 years, her husband said.
âMy wife and I love cruising,â he said.
âWe are frequent travelers,â he added, noting that they also made a trip to Georgia and South Carolina in April. âYou could call us early starters. “
Both were vaccinated in February.
The twin ports are also ready to welcome back what has become a significant part of their savings.
Debate over how to proceed, however, persisted throughout the spring as discussions continued with the CDC.
There were many complications when it came to safely relaunching ocean crossings for vacationing passengers.
Among the concerns was that the cruises posed a particular risk of spreading the coronavirus, with so many people crammed into shared spaces for long periods of time.
Long Beach Harbor Commission Chairman Frank Colonna expressed relief that deals have finally been made to reopen leisure travel.
“This is a great opportunity for us to get back to some sort of normalcy,” he said after the commission unanimously approved the deal with Carnival earlier this week.
The return of Royal Caribbean International to the port of Long Beach after a 10-year absence has also aroused some enthusiasm. The company will offer year-round cruises from Los Angeles to Catalina Island, Ensenado and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.
Norwegian Cruise Lines is also expected to return to port.
Mel Filler said he and his wife were confident to resume the cruise.
âThere is always a note of caution, I guess, but they tell us that almost everyone will be vaccinated,â Mel Filler said. âThere will be all kinds of precautions they take, with extra cleaning on the walls and buffets with limits. Cruise lines don’t take this lightly.
“I would probably feel safer on a cruise,” he added, “than going to a local supermarket.”