Cruise ships could return to Santa Barbara | Local News
Cruise ships could find a place in Santa Barbara.
the City Waterfront Department plans to ask the city council to Tuesday meeting at 2 p.m. to welcome back cruise ships, which had docked in Santa Barbara for nearly 20 years before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The department already has 17 cruise ship stopovers on the spring 2022 schedule, the first being set for March 16.
“With cases declining and vaccines readily available, the department is looking to resume the program,” according to a City of Santa Barbara staff report.
The cruise ship program was launched in 2002. Since then, Santa Barbara has hosted nearly 200 cruise ship calls, with 20 to 30 cruise ship visits per year and sizes ranging from 200 passengers to 3,500 passengers .
The majority of ships visiting Santa Barbara make short west coast trips from Los Angeles, Seattle and Long Beach.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a “No Sail Order” on March 14, 2020, which canceled 24 calls scheduled for that year.
The order has since been lifted and the Waterfront Department now recommends that “highly vaccinated” cruise ships, where at least 95% of passengers and crew are fully vaccinated, be allowed.
Additionally, all passengers and crew must provide a negative COVID test performed within 48 hours of boarding. All passengers who are not fully immunized must provide a negative COVID test performed within 24 hours of arriving ashore in Santa Barbara
A tender brings passengers ashore in Santa Barbara from the cruise ship Amadea in March 2020. (Photo Noozhawk)
Additional Waterfront Department protocols would include requiring all staff and volunteers to wear masks; strongly recommend COVID vaccinations and boosters for all staff and volunteers involved in the cruise program; installation of hand sanitizing stations in the cruise ship area; and requiring the hire of portable toilets for vessels with a capacity of more than 1,000 people.
If a ship had an epidemic or a medical problem, it would be redirected to its home port. However, in the event of a life-threatening incident, the patient would be taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Health.
Santa Barbara’s tourism partner is in favor of returning cruise ships to town.
“Visit Santa Barbara supports the Waterfront Department’s intention to resume cruise ship arrivals this spring,” said Kathy Janega-Dykes, president and CEO of the organization. “Cruises bring a diverse type of spend to our city, with most calls occurring during the shoulder season and mid-week, two slower times for local businesses.
“The schedule and program have been strategically designed to support Santa Barbara businesses during times of need and to minimize the impact on local residents. We look forward to the cruise industry helping fill a time of need for businesses in the region, many of which continue to recover from losses and debt incurred over the past two years.”
Cruise ship visitors brought $3.9 million to Santa Barbara in 2016, according to Visit Santa Barbara. Of this amount, $1.2 million came from restaurant sales and $1.4 million from retail.
“We believe now is a good time to open our port and support cruise line operations,” Janega-Dykes said.
Santa Barbara Councilman Mike Jordan, whose district includes the port, also supports the idea.
“A month ago I was hesitant, but I think the easing of health restrictions and the drop in COVID numbers while other tourism numbers are increasing support for cruise ship passengers to return to Santa Barbara,” Jordan said.