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Coronavirus

1st Cruise Ship in Puerto Rico Since Pandemic

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Carnival Mardi Gras has docked in Puerto Rico — the first cruise ship to visit the U.S. territory since the start of the pandemic.

Some cautiously celebrated Tuesday’s visit. The ship arrives as Puerto Rico is reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases blamed on the delta variant. It’s also seeking to restart its tourism sector, which depended on record numbers of cruise ship passengers visiting in recent years.

Executive director of Puerto Rico’s Tourism Company Carlos Mercado tells The Associated Press the government has taken precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including allowing only the fully vaccinated to disembark.

He says the ship was traveling at 70% capacity, with some 4,500 people aboard. He estimates a total of 3,500 will disembark.

Mercado noted 95% of the ship’s passengers are vaccinated, with children younger than 12 making up the majority of those not inoculated.

The Carnival Mardi Gras departed Port Canaveral, Florida, and Puerto Rico was its first stop. Some 1.9 million cruise ship passengers visited Puerto Rico in 2019, a record for the island, said tourism spokeswoman Astrid Rolón.

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