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1st cruise ship of the season departs from Seattle Monday

Cruise ships are returning to the Seattle waterfront after operations were halted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SEATTLE — Monday marks the start of the 2021 cruise season for the Port of Seattle, an industry brought to a standstill after the historic “no sail” order first issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March of 2020.

Standing at 10-stories tall, the Serenade of the Seas of the Royal Caribbean fleet is set to be the first cruise ship to set sail from Seattle since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I love it because I want to take a cruise, so I get really excited to see life is getting back to normal,” said Bianca Richman of Seattle.

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A seven-day cruise bound for Alaska marks the start of cruise ship season in Seattle - and the latest sign of a return to pre-pandemic life.

"The most important thing is making sure our guests feel safe because that’s really going to give them this comfort level and relax and have that great vacation that they really want to do,” Mark Tamis of Royal Caribbean said earlier this month.

Royal Caribbean is one of the major companies to test the water with a “simulated” sail. It was a chance to test the new COVID-19 safety protocols.

Smaller companies are feeling the impact, too.

“Our vessels are not even allowed to go into Canadian waters,” said a representative for the Victoria Clipper.

The Victoria Clipper is known for fast travel between Seattle and British Columbia and is still waiting for the all-clear from the Canadian government.

The Port of Seattle estimated each visiting cruise ship brings with it an economic impact of $4.2 million.

It is an industry that can not survive without passengers.

The ships may be clear to leave the dock, but the big question now is whether consumer confidence will follow.