Twenty-one cruise visits are scheduled for Cayman between March 21st and April 17th in Phase 1 of the return of cruise tourism to Cayman since the sector was suspended in March 2020.
A government press release says the resumption of the Island’s cruise industry has been approved to proceed in two phases, with Phase 1 anticipated for an initial four-week run.
Hon. Minister for Tourism and Transport, Kenneth Bryan stated: “The reason we are releasing the information as soon as it becomes available is to provide our industry partners and stakeholders with as much time as possible to plan for the return of cruise passengers and prepare their operations accordingly.”
According to the CIG statement, Cabinet’s approval of the return of cruise ships and the associated schedule for Phase 1, has paved the way for the regulatory amendments specific to the cruise industry to be drafted. These are expected to be approved next week, well ahead of the arrival of the first cruise call.
“Cruise tourism makes up a significant portion of our tourism industry and the return of cruise passengers will bring welcomed relief to many Caymanians who depend on this industry for their livelihoods,” said Minister Bryan. “Every cruise call that brings passengers to our shores is helping to support Caymanian employees and business owners that have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In all, 16 cruise ships are expected to visit Cayman between March 21st and April 17th with several making two calls within that period. While most days will see one ship at a time in port, there will be five days with two cruise ships visiting, and April 6th will be the exception with three.
One of the main issues linked to the restart of cruising to Cayman was to reduce the congestion caused by large numbers of tourists in George Town and on the beaches. Another key consideration was to ensure that specific COVID-19 protocols drawn up for the cruise sector are implemented and adhered to.
The government had said that Phase 1 is 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% of previous passenger volumes. This equates to a maximum of 75,000 passengers during this period.
The schedule of cruise ship visits starting March 21st shows a combined passenger capacity totalling 74,208 though not all are expected to come ashore.
This approach was agreed in recent high-level meetings with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association(FCCA) hosted in Cayman recently by Min. Bryan.
The return of cruise ship calls is expected to mark another milestone as Cayman continues on the path to normal economic activity, with the small business sector built around the cruise industry expected to be the main beneficiary.