Seattle – Cases of COVID-19 continue to appear on cruise ships both domestically and internationally. However, it doesn’t stop large numbers of people from booking vacations back on the water.
The Port of Seattle says cruises are already up 50% from 2019 as people are eager to get back to travel.
“The numbers are really impressive. We’re very excited about getting all the ships back and you can see them on weekends all over town,” said Linda Springman, director of cruises and marine marketing at the Port of Seattle. “We thought we were going to see build in May, with the ships coming back and we know that by the second week of June it will really bounce back after school is over. So we are really seeing the trend that we expected with the numbers going up.”
“We’re going to the Royal Caribbean tomorrow,” said Rebecca Janis, a passenger on one of the cruise ships.
The Seattle waterfront is once again bustling with visitors like the Janice family, who are on a 7-day cruise to Alaska.
“We were originally supposed to take one in May in 2020 and this is the opportunity to take that vacation we missed,” Stephen Janis said.
Janice’s family said they were all vaccinated and explained that the online testing process to board the ship was fairly easy, once the online system was discovered. Stephen told FOX 13 that his family was able to take the test in their hotel room.
“It was very quick and simple and done in 20 minutes,” Rebecca said.
Sally Rosenberg, another passenger on the cruise ship, tells us she’s been fully vaccinated and is headed to Norway on a cruise soon.
It’s a relief. A huge relief. We can go out and enjoy life again. It’s great,” Rosenberg said. “The Norway cruise has been cancelled, so we’re finally doing it.”
Rosenberg said her cruise was to take off from London. On Friday while in Seattle, she was planning to visit the Space Needle.
It’s not the only one in famous Seattle locations. The number of people visiting the Seattle waterfront is at pre-pandemic levels, according to Andy Lipscombe, owner of The Frankfurter hotdog in the middle of the bustling waterfront.
“People have been starving to get out of the house, this force is back in full force,” Lipscomb said. “It’s not just coming back, it’s coming back. There will be a record-breaking 2022 in terms of cruises. I think 1.3 million passengers are expected to come. On a cruise through Seattle, which beats the old record by about 100,000 people.”
The Port of Seattle also estimated there would be about 1.2 million or more visitors, including passengers arriving and passing through the facilities.
For COVID 19 cases, as of June 1, the CDC reports that nearly 90 cruise ships have COVID cases under investigation.
As of June 1, four ships have been reported in the “green” category, meaning that no cases have been reported on those ships. Two ships were designated as “yellow,” meaning that the ship reported that less than 0.3% of its passengers and/or crew had been infected with COVID-19.
87 ships, by far the highest number, were rated “orange”. That means the ship has reported 0.3% or more of its passengers and/or crew members have COVID, enough for the CDC to investigate.
No ships were listed in the red zone, which could lead to further on-board testing, concealment, or other measures.
“If we only stop because of the low number, I think we are giving away a lot more than we are getting rid of,” Stephen said.
Janice’s family says they will implement safety measures, but it’s time to start living again.
“Washing hands, wearing masks in crowded places while still taking proper precautions – it wouldn’t be any different than if you were outside on a normal day,” Rebecca said.
The CDC says cruises will always pose a COVID risk and vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself from the virus.
As for tourist traffic in general in Seattle, James Seydoux, director of media relations and case management for the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), said Seattle saw significant numbers of foot traffic last week. Over the seven-day period for total visits — including workers, residents and visitors combined — last week, he says, Seattle averaged 380,000 visits per day.
He says the average is the highest debt sustainability risk since the start of the pandemic.