GALVESTON — The Carnival Vista, an 1,100-foot-long cruise ship carrying hundreds of passengers, will slip out of Galveston Harbor Saturday on a course for Mahogany Bay in Honduras, signaling a rebirth of a local industry and symbolizing how far the state and the nation have come since the darkest days of the coronavirus pandemic.

The return of cruise ships to the Port of Galveston was celebrated by passengers, executives of Carnival Cruise Lines, and Galveston officials as another component of the island’s tourism economy fell into place after a year of business closures, financial losses and layoffs. Before the pandemic, cruise ships brought about 1 million visitors through Galveston, staying in hotels, eating at restaurants and paying for long-term parking.

“It means everything to us that they’re coming back,” said Charles Tompkins, chief operating officer of Port Parking and EZ Cruise Parking, which own and…

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