MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Port Everglades looked like its best pre-pandemic days of activity on Saturday, as thousands of passengers boarded cruise ships.

“We are ecstatic, finally, again, woohoo,” cheered a passenger celebrating. For many in the group, their trip couldn’t have come soon enough.

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“It was scheduled for last year and it got postponed because of the pandemic, so we have been waiting now over a year for this,” said Barber Baker.

According to Port Everglades officials, 6 ships set sail Saturday, the largest number since the pandemic.

“We feel like it’s from Bally the start of the cruise season,” said Ellen Kennedy a spokesperson with Port Everglades. But she adds as the season gets underway, there have been some changes.

“The cruise lines are following CDD guidelines and they’re going out with limited capacity much lower than they normally would and they’re taking all kinds of precautions”, said Kennedy.

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Among the changes is requiring passengers to show proof of vaccination and take a COVID-19 test prior to boarding, steps those CBS4 News spoke to say has helped ease their concerns.

“We just finished taking the COVID test. We just got freed on that and we’re gonna take two or three more so we feel pretty safe,” said passenger Bill Rogers.

“So grateful that they got the safety precautions to make us feel like we’re going to be fine and I’m super excited to be back with all our friends that we’ve been going on this cruise with for the past 13 years,” added Will Fisher.

But it isn’t just passengers who are excited, officials say there are about six thousand people who are employed locally by the cruise industry and ancillary supporting businesses. These people have been on hold, like Kenny Neil Band, whose members say they are happy to be back to work.

“So excited to be going. It’s been a long time coming. The pandemic has put a toll on us, so it’s our first time back and we’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll,” added Leroy Toussaint.

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“I’m very very happy. Just want to share my music like I’ve been sharing it before and I get to play the blues for a lot of people,” echoed band member, Frederick Neil.