LONG BEACH, CALIF. – A cruise ship bound for the Mexican Riviera left the port of Long Beach on Saturday – the first cruise ship to leave California in 17 months.
The Carnival Panorama is making a seven-day trip and will stop at Mexican ports of Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan before returning to Long Beach, Carnival Corp said. in a press release.
The 1,060-foot Carnival Panorama debuted in 2019.
Passenger Bob Lechtreck said he and his wife were on the inaugural sail on December 11, 2019.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be on the Panorama for its first return to service,” Lechtreck told the Press-Telegram in a text. “It’s been far too long since we’ve been sailing, and we couldn’t be happier going back to our favorite activity.”
The cruise industry has been hit hard by the pandemic after passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19 and some ships were turned away from ports. The industry has fought with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over health requirements for resuming shipping in United States waters.
The company said its operational protocols exceeded CDC recommendations. They include the vaccination of all employees and the requirement for all passengers to present a negative COVID-19 test.
Passengers must be vaccinated, but the company will allow “a small number of exemptions” for those who cannot be vaccinated, including children under 12 who are not yet eligible. Those who are not vaccinated will need to take additional precautions, according to Carnival’s COVID-19 guest protocols.
Last week, 27 people tested positive for COVID-19 on a Carnival cruise just before the ship called in Belize City, Belize. The ship returned to Galveston, Texas on Friday after stopping in Mexico.
The positive cases involved 26 crew members and one passenger of the Carnival Vista, which was carrying more than 1,400 crew members and nearly 3,000 passengers, the Belize Tourism Board said in a statement.
All 27 were vaccinated, had mild or no symptoms and were in isolation, the statement said. The tourist office said 99.98% of the ship’s crew were vaccinated, along with 96.5% of its passengers.