After Princess Cruises canceled its Grand Princess cruise ship’s March 24 stop in Santa Barbara, the remaining 10 cruise ships scheduled to disembark in Santa Barbara’s harbor are also being asked to stay clear of the harbor in response to the coronavirus — so far seven have complied.
The city requested all cruise lines to cancel their upcoming visits to Santa Barbara until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removes its travel advisory for cruise ships. The full list of cancelations can be found here.
“I appreciate Princess Cruises taking action and protecting the safety of the community and passengers,” Mayor Cathy Murillo said. “We are asking other cruise lines to follow their lead and take a cautious approach.”
Nina Johnson, senior assistant to the city administrator, said she is fairly certain that the remaining three ships will follow suit and cancel. If a cruise line does not cancel and a passenger or crew member tests positive for COVID-19, the ship would be diverted to one of three West Coast quarantine stations: San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego.
“It’s really only a matter of time,” Johnson said, of the expected total cancellations. “We will probably hear that they canceled later today.”
The three cruise-ship visits yet to be canceled are the Celebrity Millennium scheduled to disembark on both April 7 and 11 and the Star Breeze on June 17.
Canceling 10 cruise-ship visits is unprecedented in the City of Santa Barbara, where many businesses rely on tourism dollars. The city typically receives about 30 ships per year; cutting it by a third could have an unknown impact on the local economy, tourism industry, and local businesses (particularly those close to the harbor and wharf that rely on tourism traffic.)
The virus has also sparked other unprecedented shutdowns throughout the local community and state, the coverage of which can be viewed here.