Galveston is gearing up to reopen its busy cruise port.
“Carnival has announced that they want to have paid passengers back at the Port of Galveston on July 3,” Galveston County Daily News senior reporter John Wayne Ferguson told Texas Standard.
But first, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is requiring the company to conduct some tests.
“They need to recruit volunteers, essentially, to get on the ship and go through all these safety procedures that the paying passengers will eventually have to go and do – things like wearing masks, getting tested at cruise terminals and kind of doing all the activities on the ship that you would normally do,” Ferguson said.
He says those simulated cruises might begin as soon as in the next couple of weeks.
“[They’re trying] to prove whether people can be exposed to the virus on the ship. So it is an experiment in a lot of ways,” Ferguson said.
He said the port is expecting about nine Carnival cruises to sail out of Galveston in July, with the expectation that there will be a ramp up throughout the year. Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, has not yet announced plans to return to Galveston.
Though the risks are uncertain, Ferguson says he’s not hearing much public hesitancy.
“The people over at the port are really excited,” Ferguson said. “There’s been nearly 400 cruises canceled in the last year, and that’s kind of $40 million in unrealized revenue for the port.”
He says there are also a lot of people who work on and around the docks who are looking forward to the return of business. And, Ferguson says, many don’t see cruise passengers as a particular risk.
“I think, you know, being in Galveston, being such a big tourism destination and with the summer started, there’s already so many people here that I don’t know that the cruise passengers are going to rate as far as being more risky than anyone else,” he said.