Come down to the waterfront Sunday midday to see a beautiful sight — the return of two Carnival cruise ships to Galveston. While the Carnival Breeze and Vista won’t sail with passengers yet, their arrival is one more sign that we’re moving closer to that happy day.

In another sign of progress, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week it is committed to the resumption of cruising from U.S. homeports by midsummer. It also announced new steps to speed up approvals, including the following:

• If a ship attests that 98 percent of its crew and 95 percent of its passengers are fully vaccinated, the ship may skip simulated voyages and move directly to open water sailing.

• The CDC will respond within five days to applications for simulated voyages, down from an anticipated 60 days.

• It will update testing and quarantine requirements for passengers and crew to align with its guidance for fully vaccinated individuals.

While cruise lines are evaluating this latest round of guidelines from the CDC, this is certainly progress toward lifting the No Sail Order that the CDC issued in October 2020.

The CDC, the cruise industry, cruise passengers, communities that benefit from the cruise business and workers all support the same goal — the resumption of safe, sustainable cruising. The issue remains how we get there. Obviously, the devil is in the details.

A GROUNDSWELL OF SUPPORT

Growing support for restarting cruising is helping push things forward. National media have reported on the Port of Galveston’s positive message about cruising and its preparations to be ready for cruising as early as July.

Our Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees demonstrated its commitment by passing a resolution at its April 27 meeting. It emphasizes the economic benefits and supports ongoing efforts by the cruise industry and the CDC to establish guidelines to allow resumption of safe cruising from Galveston and other U.S. ports as soon as possible in 2021.

The Federal Maritime Commission will host a rally at the Port of Galveston on Monday to emphasize the importance of cruising for Texas and our port, the fourth most popular cruise homeport in the United States.

Commissioners Louis E. Sola and Carl W. Bentzel will give opening remarks, followed by International Longshoremen’s Association President Alan Robb, Galveston Mayor Craig Brown, other community leaders and a number of business representatives.

Show your support for cruising by attending the rally at 2 p.m. Monday at the Transit Terminal located at 25th Street between Harborside Drive and The Strand. The ships are scheduled to dock at Cruise Terminal 1 & 2 at the Port of Galveston between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sunday, and they will be here through May 7.

Rodger Rees is Galveston Wharves port director and chief executive officer.

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