Cayman Islands government and tourism authorities moved quickly on Tuesday address concerns that Carnival Cruise Lines had dropped the territory its itinerary.
In a rushed statement, the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport it wished to “assure the public that there is no truth to reports circulating in the media that Carnival Cruise lines have dropped the Cayman Islands from its Western Caribbean itinerary.”
The Ministry said it “continues to work collaboratively with cruise line partners and are adhering to established medical protocols with respect to the docking of cruise ships and landing of cruise ship passengers.”
American, regional and specialist cruise industry media had been awash with reports that Carnival Cruise Line had dropped the Cayman Islands and Jamaica from its itinerary, citing local policy issues concerning the coronavirus outbreak.
“We are implementing some itinerary changes on voyages scheduled to call on Grand Cayman and Jamaica this week,” the quoted statement said.
“A number of Caribbean destinations continue to work through their policies with regards to cruise ship visits. And while we are following all U.S. CDC and World Health Organization screening protocols and guidelines, we want to avoid any possibility of a visit to a destination where there is uncertainty or we risk being turned away.”
Carnival Cruise Line went on to state:
“To be clear, there is no health situation on board to trigger this concern, but we are making this change to avoid even the possibility of a disruption.
“We understand some guests will be disappointed and trust they will understand that this decision is being made to protect their vacation and maximize their experience with us.”
No Carnival ship has been barred from the Cayman Islands.
Following the intervention of Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, Carnival Cruise Line was said to have reviewed its policy and the situation is now considered ‘smooth sailing’.
Just last week the governments of the Cayman Islands and Jamaica individually denied port access to the MSC Meraviglia, a cruise ship from a different line, over concerns of crew displaying flu-like symptoms.
Cayman health authorities said at the time that they took the decision “out of an abundance of caution”.
The company subsequently issued a strongly worded statement claiming that there were only instances of seasonal flu on board and criticised Cayman and Jamaica for “fear-mongering” over the coronavirus outbreak.
Referencing the actions being taken by the Ministry of Tourism, Hon. Moses Kirkconnell stated that the Ministry of Tourism is taking very seriously the potential threat posed by the Coronavirus.
“We are proactively working with industry partners and stakeholders to ensure compliance with the extensive protections put in place by the Ministry of Health to safeguard public health and protect the points of entry into our Islands,” he said.
Mr Kirkconnell also stated that “At the regional level, the Cayman Islands have also participated in discussions with CARICOM leaders and representatives from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to co-operatively establish and implement minimum standards and protocols to help protect the Caribbean community from the Coronavirus.”
The Cayman Islands Ministry of Health, Public Health officials and the management of the Health Services Authority have confirmed that at this time there are no cases of the Coronavirus in the country.
“While we will continue to be guided by the Ministry of Health and medical professionals, it is also important that on a personal level we each take responsibility for our own well-being by following the general infection control measures,” Minister Kirkconnell said.
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