Local authorities in Bonaire denied Carnival Freedom to make its scheduled call in Bonaire on December 22, 2021 due to COVID cases among the crew. This comes when cruise destinations are worried about cruise ships bringing the new Omicron variant and cruise lines increasing protocols to keep guests and crew safe.
It’s also been confirmed that the ship’s scheduled call to Aruba on December 23 is also cancelled.
Bonaire Denies Carnival Freedom
With the worry of the new Omicron variant, cruise ports are starting to deny cruise ships, including the Carnival Freedom in Kralendijk, Bonaire.
According to a local report, Harbour Master Gunter Flanegin confirmed that in consultation with Public Health, it was decided not to allow passengers from Carnival cruise ship in Bonaire, resulting in the vessel being asked to keep away and not to dock.
In a letter sent to guests on the current sailing from the Captain, it says, “As a follow up to my announcement this morning, I want to apologize again that we were unable to make our call in Bonaire. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant impacts how destinations are responding to even a small number of cases.”
The letter continues, “Unfortunately, officials in Aruba have also now notified us that guests will not be able to disembark and some of you may have noticed that we have changed course. Our team is working to identify alternative port options and we will share that information as soon as it is confirmed.”
Even though the cruise lines are not releasing any COVID numbers, it is known that 2.5% of crew members have tested positive onboard Carnival Freedom. When the ship made a call in Willemstad, Curacao, a day earlier on December 21, Bonaire authorities were also informed about the positive cases.
Carnival Freedom is currently sailing an eight-day Southern Caribbean voyage that departed Miami, Florida, on December 18, 2021. There are four days at sea during the cruise, along with three ports of call.
The call at Curacao went ahead but had a slightly delayed departure. With the call in Bonaire cancelled, it is also confirmed that the scheduled visit to Aruba tomorrow (December 23) is also not taking place. The Aruba Ports Authority updated its schedule that Carnival Freedom’s visit is cancelled.
CDC Raises Warning for Bonaire
It comes just as Bonaire was elevated back to level 4 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It means that the CDC now advises to avoid all travel to the Caribbean cruise destination, but if travel is a must, then travelers should make sure they are fully vaccinated.
The island has also heightened its travel restrictions, including the travel bubble between the Dutch Caribbean islands of St. Maarten, Curacao, and Bonaire. The travel gateway has now been closed due to growing concerns about the Omicron variant.
It also comes as the government increases general travel requirements. Starting from December 22, 2021, travelers 12 years and above entering Bonaire will have to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure to the island. There is also a self-test requirement that travelers must take on the same day as arrival after entering the Caribbean nation.
Carnival Freedom returned to service from PortMiami in Florida on October 9, 2021. The vessel is scheduled to end the current voyager back in Miami on December 26, Boxing Day.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more facts are known.