Although strict health protocols will remain in place, Carnival Corporation has made a deal with Jamaica to include the Caribbean nation in 110 cruises or more over the coming six months. The news comes after Carnival Sunrise was one of the few cruise ships to visit the only port in Jamaica currently in operation for cruise visitors, Ocho Rios.
The announcement comes after a meeting between Carnival Corporation CEO Donald Arnold, Minister Bartlet, and other tourist officials from Jamaica. The meeting took place in Miami, Florida on September 28, 2021.
Jamaica can expect to see a steady mix of Carnival Corporation brands as the company seeks to expand the availability of ports in the Caribbean. The company has committed to 110 calls over the coming six months, between October 2021 and April 2022. So far, the country has had only five calls from cruise ships over the last months, with all of them calling in Ocho Rios only.
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Although the agreements were made between the two parties, they are still subject to the Jamaican authorities’ rules and regulations and how the calls can be handled logistically and based on the current public health issues and standards.
Tourism Minister Bartlett of Jamaica feels the current protocols will enable Carnival’s cruise ships to visit safely and protect the local population from outside infections of COVID-19.
“Carnival is a critical partner for Jamaica’s tourism and wider economic recovery. We are seeing a welcome return of vessels with the recognition that Jamaica’s Resilient Corridors offer a safe environment for our visitors, tourism workers, and the general population,” according to Minister Bartlett.
The arrival of Cruise ships will indeed be governed by strict health and safety protocols. So far, from Carnival Corporation, only Carnival Sunrise has been visiting Jamaica, with 11 calls scheduled for the vessel until December. Other cruise lines have also returned to the Caribbean island including MSC Meraviglia, operated by MSC Cruises.
“I must underscore that the cruises have to meet strict measures governing the restart of cruise shipping, requiring passengers over the age of 12 and crew to be fully vaccinated and for all passengers to provide evidence of negative results from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of sailing. In the case of unvaccinated passengers, such as children, a PCR test is mandated, and all passengers are also screened and tested (antigen) on embarkation,” Minister Bartlett stressed according to eTurbonews.
Jamaica’s Cruise Market Heavily Impacted
After being closed for more than a year, the cruise sector in Jamaica is more than ready to get going once again. The policies that have been put in place in Ocho Rios have proved to be successful for the local residents.
Part of this is the Resilient Corridors program which aims to ensure the safety of those in the port and those visiting. This means that those operating within the port area or with visitors are all within a bubble. In bubble areas, facilities that have been approved by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) to receive cruise passengers. Vaccinations and regular testing are mandatory for anyone who interacts with visitors inside the bubble.
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Jamaica has traditionally been one of the most popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean. From 2015 to 2018, Carnival Corporation transported the largest number of cruise visitors to Jamaica, followed by Royal Caribbean.
The company was responsible for over 869,000 visitors to the island in 2018. With more than 200,000 visitors scheduled to visit the island onboard the Carnival Corporation ships alone, a positive future is forecast for the many tour operators, arts and crafts sellers, and other stakeholders on the island.