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Spirit of Norfolk back on the water for the summer, after pandemic pause

The cruise sat in the port for most of last year. It had a brief stint on the water last summer before officials stopped sailing again.

NORFOLK, Va. — It’s an icon on the Elizabeth River and after months of sitting at the dock, the Spirit of Norfolk cruise ship is hitting the water again for the first time in months.

The ship set sail over the Easter weekend with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. 

General Manager of City Cruises Norfolk, Jolene Price-Thompson said she understands some people are still a little nervous about cruising during the coronavirus pandemic, but they’re taking every precaution to sail safely.

“There’s definitely people are very cautious and some are skeptical because it is a cruise ship," she said. “We already had followed strict sanitation guidelines anyway, but at this point we do everything that is required and suggested by the CDC and even more.”

In addition to heightened cleaning protocols, the yacht is operating at 50% capacity and guests will dine with six feet of space between them.  

The buffet has a protective shield around it, and an attendant will serve the food; Hand sanitizer is available throughout the ship, and everyone will be required to wear masks. 

Price-Thompson said everyone is happy to be back on the water.

“Through the pandemic obviously everyone in the hospitality industry and travel industry has struggled so it’s been rough," she said. "But for us to open up this past weekend, our excitement is two-fold. One, we’ve got crew coming back on board that have worked for us. So we’re getting people back to work which is so important. It was like an old homecoming, this past weekend. But, the guests are ecstatic.”

Price-Thompson said demand was high this past weekend… and this coming weekend, they are almost sold out.  

She said no doubt, a lot of people are looking forward to getting back to some normal activities, especially now that more people are getting vaccinated.

“We saw folks this weekend who have been frequent cruises of ours for a while there were some tourists that were at the Oceanfront who’s never could with us before," she said.

“Everyone follows the guidelines, everyone just seems to be very grateful that they’re out doing things in fresh air with other people, doing it safely.”  

Price-Thompson added, “It’s truly a nice three-hour event that takes you away from the craziness that we’ve all been dealing with for the last little bit.”  

The spirit will cast off every weekend for lunch and dinner cruises, from Friday to Sunday.

To book a cruise visit the City Experiences website or call 866-304-2469.

Author's Note: The video below is on file from June 17, 2020.