The Cayman Islands Government announced today that following careful consideration of recommendations presented by the Ministry of Tourism to facilitate the safe return of cruise tourism, cruise ships are projected to return to the Cayman Islands as of March 21, 2022 pending formal cabinet approval and regulatory amendments.
After a 2-year hiatus, the return of cruise passengers to the Cayman Islands represents the achievement of a significant milestone in the recovery of the Cayman Islands tourism industry.
According to the Ministry of Tourism’s recommendations, the resumption of cruise tourism will follow a phased approach similar to the process adopted for the reintroduction of stay over air arrivals. Phase 1 is slated to continue for a period of four weeks, to allow sufficient time for safety protocols to be evaluated and to identify what, if any, adjustments might need to be made.
Also, during Phase 1 cruise passenger arrivals will be limited to 40 percent of previous passenger volumes. This equates to a maximum of 75,000 passengers during this period. Following the successful completion of Phase 1, and subject to Public Health approval, the 40 percent capacity constraint will be removed. However, effective public health protocols will be maintained, integrating the lessons learned during Phase 1.
Hon. Kenneth Bryan, Minister for Tourism who recently hosted senior executives from the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) for high level cruise talks in the Cayman Islands, stated in a press statement that “The PACT Administration does not take the decision to reintroduce cruise tourism lightly; the fact remains that while the pandemic persists, all travel, whether by air or sea, presents a certain degree of risk. However, as we are seeing with stay over arrivals, our island’s high vaccination rate, coupled with having the right safety protocols in place, is allowing our tourism industry to recover.”
Drawing on previous experience from the reintroduction of tourist air arrivals in the Cayman Islands, the Program Board and various local government entities are reviewing regulations to make sure that appropriate protocols are in place to protect the public. These are intended to take into account the unique characteristics of the cruise industry and the fact that cruise passengers are only in the jurisdiction for 6-8 hours on average and do not overnight.
Around the world, cruise operations have been safely resuming and public health measures, such as pre-embarkation tests and wellness checks that comply with COVID-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are in effect. Individual cruise lines have also developed their own safety protocols that exceed CDC guidelines, and ships are now equipped with excellent medical facilities, including intensive care and isolation units.
During Phase 1, in addition to the rigorous safety protocols implemented by cruise lines, which include the requirement for passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated, the Cayman Islands Government has identified which cruise calls will be permitted, to increase the layers of public protection.
The interim chief medical officer, Dr. Autilia Newton, has also examined the health protocols of all cruise lines that operate under the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and is satisfied, noting that no COVID positive passengers, crew or their close contacts will be permitted to disembark the cruise ship in Grand Cayman, whether they are symptomatic or not.
Minister Bryan emphasized that the government is giving as much advance notice as possible of the intent to restart cruise tourism on March 21. “This is to allow cruise operators, businesses and employees enough lead time to prepare,” he stated. “After two years of uncertainty there is finally light on the horizon, and I encourage businesses to start staffing up and making the necessary preparations to give cruise passengers a great experience when they arrive.
“Our phased approach will ensure that residents and visitors are well protected as we welcome cruise passengers back to our shores,” the Minister added.
Following Cabinet’s anticipated approval in the coming weeks, further information including the approved cruise ship schedule will be shared.
For more information, visit visitcaymanislands.com/welcomeback.
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