Johanna Jainchill
Johanna Jainchill

Over the last month, ports from Florida to California have stepped up to provide vaccinations for cruise ship crew, helping to mitigate what cruise lines have warned was a major challenge on the cruise industry's path to a restart. 

And port vaccinations programs are already showing their value: Many of the crew on ships slated to sail this summer have been vaccinated at a growing number of cruise ports over the last month.

With a focus on hope for a portion of the Alaska season, many Alaska-bound crew are getting their jabs. This weekend, crew from the Serenade of the Seas received vaccines at PortMiami -- the ship that Royal plans to launch in Alaska in July.  Last week, the Port of Los Angeles administered 221 vaccinations to crew on the Majestic Princess, destined for Alaska; and Holland America Line crew members from the Koningsdam, Noordam and Nieuw Amsterdam received vaccines in the ports of San Diego and San Pedro, Calif; the Nieuw Amsterdam is the ship Holland plans to launch in Alaska this summer.

The drive isn't limited to Alaska, however. Earlier this month, crew from Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas and Independence of the Seas were vaccinated at PortMiami. Carnival Cruise Line plans to position two of the first three ships it launches, the Carnival Vista and Breeze, out of Galveston, Texas, and hundreds of crew from those ships were vaccinated by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

And getting shots in arms is good business: In all cases, the local governments and ports have cited the importance of cruising to the local economy. In Los Angeles, every time a cruise ship calls, it generates more than $1 million in revenue for local restaurants, hotels and shops, according to Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka. The Koningsdam is one of two ships scheduled to launch from San Diego in October; according to Holland America, the estimated economic impact of each ship visit is $300,000 for the San Diego region. Galveston, the fourth most popular cruise homeport in North America, according to Carnival, and the only cruise port in Texas, generates $1.6 billion in expenditures annually and 27,000 jobs statewide.

Port Canaveral, which has inoculated crew from Royal Caribbean and Carnival ships, in April was the first port to publicly offer cruise crew vaccination. The port's CEO, Capt. John Murray, said that expanding vaccine eligibility to those workers, "is significantly important for our cruise tourism business, and we're proud of our efforts to help get this industry up and running."

Cruise line executives have been saying throughout the spring that among the many hurdles facing the industry in its quest to resume service, getting enough crew inoculated was a significant one. 

The important partnerships between the cruise lines and the ports they sail from are helping to make that aspect a lot less daunting.

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