Texas became the latest state to host a protest against the CDC's cruise ban, with Carnival Cruise Line crew and executives joining members of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), Galveston city and port officials and local businesses at the Port of Galveston to highlight cruising's economic impact.
Galveston, the fourth most popular cruise homeport in North America, according to Carnival, generates $1.6 billion in expenditures annually and 27,000 jobs statewide as the only cruise port in Texas.
Carnival sent two ships to the rally, the Carnival Breeze and Carnival Vista, as well as the line's president, Christine Duffy, to speak alongside Galveston mayor Craig Brown, FMC commissioner Louis Sola and several local business representatives including Vacations To Go CEO Emerson Hankamer.
Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy with crew on the Carnival Vista.
To demonstrate the port's and the cruise line's desire to resume operations, crew members from both ships were vaccinated by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
"Today was yet another significant milestone in our efforts to resume cruising in the U.S.," said Duffy. "We've said all along that we would like the cruise industry be given equal treatment of other travel and hospitality companies, and this event sent a strong and unified message that we need to start sailing again."
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn also sent a video message in support of the rally, saying "it's absolutely critical that we take steps to ensure that this part of the economy continues to survive and thrive."
Carnival is the No. 1 cruise operator from Galveston and the only line with three year-round ships at the port, with the Vista, the Breeze and the Carnival Dream operating 175 sailings annually from the port and carrying an estimated 750,000 passengers a year.