In what will be an obvious blow to the local economy, Princess Cruises on March 9 announced the cancellation of its Grand Princess cruise scheduled to visit Santa Barbara on March 24 in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a city press release.
Cruise ships anchoring in Santa Barbara bring in an estimated $4 million each with passengers spending their money in shops and restaurants.
“During last week last, city waterfront staff members were requesting updates from the cruise line to determine whether the cruise would be canceled,” said Nina Johnson, senior assistant to the Santa Barbara city administrator.
“It’s hard to estimate the loss in revenue that will result from the cancellation because some businesses are frequented by more cruise ship passengers and visitors than others,” she said in an email.
“To protect the safety of residents, the city will contact other cruise lines to request cancellation of their upcoming cruise visits to Santa Barbara, until the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention removes their travel advisory for cruise ships,” Johnson said. Ten cruise ship visits were planned in Santa Barbara through June 2020.
“I appreciate Princess Cruises taking action and protecting the safety of the community and passengers,” said Mayor Cathy Murillo. “We are asking other cruise lines to follow their lead and take a cautious approach.”
The CDC is advising travelers, particularly those who already have health issues, to stay away from cruise ship travel for now, Johnson said.
“Recent reports of COVID-19 on cruise ships highlight the risk of infection to cruise ship passengers and crew,” she said. “Like many other viruses, COVID-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships.”
Johnson said city staff members are monitoring the rapidly changing situation regarding COVID-19 and are taking steps to plan for a potential community emergency and continuation of the city’s essential business operations.
Posted March 9, 2020.