Council OKs agreement with Royal Caribbean for cruise ship visit to Avalon

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Council authorizes city manager to prepare future agreements with cruise lines

The Avalon council voted 3-0 to authorize the city attorney to execute a memorandum of agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., at a special Sept. 30 council meeting. Two council members were absent.

The council approved a memorandum of understanding with a different cruise line last week. A Carnival vessel arrived Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Cruise ships have long been a part of the Island economy, particularly during the off-season. However, cruise ships stopped visiting during the pandemic. Residents who work in the tourism industry have traditionally welcomed the vessels, while other Islanders see the large influx of passengers in short periods of time as a detriment to the local quality of life.

“In the proposed MOA, Royal Caribbean is required to transport any COVID-19 positive passengers, close contacts, or others who require care, isolation, or quarantine and may otherwise require disembarkation, to the Home Port of San Diego for medical care and any short-term housing needs,” wrote Assistant City Manager Michael Parmer in his report to the council.

The MOA would require at least 95% of the passengers and 95% of the crew members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Parmer’s report.

The memorandum of agreement defers to the Federal Centers for Disease Control to establish the guidelines for the cruise ship, but if the county mandates stricter rules, those rules would apply, according to Parmer’s report.

“In order to allow cruise ships to return to Avalon an MOA must be in place. Royal Caribbean’s first scheduled arrival to port is on October 16, 2021 (Celebrity Millennium- Maximum 2,559 passengers),” Parmer wrote.

“Additionally, Staff is recommending the City Council authorize the City Manager or her designee, in consultation with the City Attorney, to prepare and execute future memorandum of agreements for cruise line operators that want to call on Avalon while the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order is in effect,” Parmer wrote.