The number of cruise ships off the Santa Barbara coast that visit the area is about to jump.
Starting in April, 22 cruise ships will use Santa Barbara as a port of call. That’s twice the amount from 2012.
“It’s a balancing act. Twenty-two is a big number for us,” said Helene Schneider, Santa Barbara mayor.
More ships are requesting to stop in Santa Barbara as trips to Mexico have become increasingly unsafe.
“A little sketchy, and I think the cruise ships want to ensure the safety of their passengers and as part of investigating alternatives to that, they’ve sort of stumbled upon this notion that you can create an incredible itinerary between San Diego and Vancouver,” said Mick Kronman, harbor operations manager.
Last year 11 cruises came to town, but add another 11 and that means more money for the area.
One cruise liner that has frequented the South Coast is the Sapphire Princess. That ship holds 3,700 passengers and a crew of 1,000.
The ships may only stay for a day but it is profitable.
“The statistic I hear is every couple that disembarks from a cruise ship to Santa Barbara spends about $200 during their stay here, whether that’s at a restaurant or shopping or on a tour or whatever it is. So, it’s definitely a good boost for the local economy,” said Schneider.
But that’s not the only money generator. The Waterfront Department charges $5 per person on the ship. That could rake in more than $23,000 with passengers and crew per vessel.
With so many people on board, the ship generates quite a bit of waste. To make sure that doesn’t pollute the channel, the ship’s captain must sign an environmental declaration agreeing to not dump any waste closer than 12 miles off the Santa Barbara shoreline.
“And this far exceeds what’s required by regulatory authorities, the state in particular,” said Kronman.
The first ship sets sail in April and the city is hoping the tourists will visit again, even if it isn’t on a cruise. The rest of the ships will visit in May then again in September and October.