The government of Belize has announced the end of all COVID-19 health protocol requirements for entry into the country, including proof of vaccination, pre-travel testing, and travel health insurance coverage. The change, which was announced on July 15, 2022, includes cruise travelers.
But will this have a real impact on cruise requirements for different lines? While it is a positive step, the immediate impact may not be as dramatic as hoped.
Belize Ends Travel Restrictions
In an announcement from the Belize Tourism Board, all public health measures for both land and sea entry into the country have been discontinued, effective immediately.
Travelers visiting the Central American country will no longer need to present negative COVID-19 test results, show proof of vaccination, or purchase travel health insurance.
“With the emergence of weaker variants of COVID-19 and with the global trend of restrictions being relaxed, the time has come to take the pressure off of our health systems,” said Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness for Belize. “We’ve reached a level where it’s now everyone’s personal responsibility to decide whether they want to be vaccinated or not.”
The government does recommend that travelers continue to take the precautions they feel most comfortable with, urging vaccination as the best protection and encouraging travel insurance in case of emergency.
This relaxation is a welcome sign that different cruise destinations are beginning to adapt to post-pandemic conditions and be more open for universal travel, which can make planning and preparing for a cruise much less complicated.
What This Means for Cruise Travelers
The immediate impact of this announcement, however, is unlikely to change cruise travel protocols such as pre-cruise testing or vaccination requirements. While several cruise lines do visit Belize as part of Western Caribbean itineraries, the small country is never the only port a cruise visits.
Cruise lines must set their own health and safety protocols based not on a single port of call, but as a combination of all the ports a ship will visit on its itinerary. For cruises that visit Belize, this often includes ports in Mexico, Jamaica, The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and other popular destinations.
Furthermore, cruise lines must comply with protocols set by the homeports they sail from. For the time being, most Western Caribbean cruises depart from U.S. homeports, which means cruise lines must continue to follow the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC has indicated it is reviewing protocols for cruise ships, though no further details have been made available, nor is there any sign that updated protocols will be released soon. Cruise lines have been urging reconsideration of the current protocols since international flight testing mandates were dropped in early June.
Cruising to Belize
Belize is a beautiful and popular cruise destination, with multiple ships and cruise lines calling in Belize City, the largest city in the country, each month. Belize City is located on the southern half of the Yucatan peninsula, approximately 300 miles south of Cozumel, Mexico.
The country is popular with cruise travelers for its outstanding snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities, pristine beaches, Mayan ruins, jungle tours, spectacular caves, phenomenal wildlife, and much more.
Cruise lines that currently include Belize City in various sailings include Carnival Cruise Line, which is visiting the port via Carnival Vista, the first ship to return to the country in 2021 when cruising restarted, as well as Carnival Dream and Carnival Glory.
Celebrity Cruises is sailing to Belize City with Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Constellation, and Celebrity Apex, and Princess Cruises is visiting the port via Caribbean Princess, Ruby Princess, and Sky Princess.
Royal Caribbean International also visits Belize City, with Liberty of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, and Radiance of the Seas currently including Belize on several itineraries.
These are just a few of the ships scheduled to visit Belize in the next few months. As cruise lines adapt and plan additional itineraries, this popular port of call is sure to become even more available to eager travelers.