The cruise industry’s return to the Cayman Islands is on shaky ground now the Cayman Islands Premier, Alden McLaughlin, has said he does not foresee cruise ships visiting the islands before 2022 in a significant way.
According to the Premier of the small island nation, “The world would have to be a very different place relating to the coronavirus,” (ed. before any cruises will happen). As reported earlier by the Cayman News Service
Cruise Industry A Vital Part Of Cayman Economy
The Cayman Islands have been visited by cruise ships since the first cruises in the Caribbean started and have been a vital part of the local economy.
Despite this, the successful implementation of cruises in Europe, and the extreme measures ships will have to take in the United States, cruising, is not expected to take place any time soon.
The islands have started with their vaccine program, and travel and tourism could be starting up as early as March; however, cruises have been ruled out for the time being, according to Mr. McLaughlin:
“Cruise is not on our radar at all at this stage. We would have to be satisfied that the world was in a very different place in terms of safety-related to COVID-19 before we would even consider having the cruise ships come here. Honestly, I don’t see cruise tourism resuming on any significant level before next year.”
The Cayman Islands are a British overseas territory and consist of three islands, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. In 2019, around two million cruise passengers visited the islands, with January being the strongest month with 271.000 visitors.
For the 2017/2018 cruise season, the cruise line generated passenger spending in the islands amounted to $224.5 million. This amount is divided into food and beverage, jewelry purchases, local travel and tours, taxes, and souvenirs.
What Cruises Are Scheduled to the Cayman Islands?
Despite the news from the Premier, several cruise lines still offer cruises to the Cayman Islands. Carnival Cruise Line has four different ships scheduled in April 2021 to visit the islands; these are Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Sunrise, and Carnival Glory.
Royal Caribbean also has cruises scheduled to the islands onboard Independence of the Seas; the line has three voyages scheduled that depart as early as March 8, 2021.
Norwegian Cruise Line also has two voyages scheduled to visit Grand Cayman in April 2021, onboard Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Escape.
What the message from the Premier means for these cruises is not clear as of yet. Earlier this week, Adolpho Perez, the senior VP for global sales and trade marketing at Carnival Cruise Line, said the cruise line is in the planning stages of a resumption of cruises. However, this was before the cruise line announced all cruises were on hold until April:
“We plan to start a phased-in approach, starting with Miami on Horizon, and then from Port Canaveral and Galveston. Right now, we’re hoping March is the date, but there’s no definitive answer.”
It comes as no surprise the country is hesitant to resume cruises and tourism on any large scale as it has been incredibly successful with maintaining low numbers of COVID-19 infections.
At the time of writing, the country only had three active cases. However, there is also no denying that the cruise industry plays a vital role in the local economy of the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean as a whole.
The industry supports a vast network of suppliers, port agents, tour operators, and much more. With more than 12 million cruise visitors to the various islands in 2018 alone, it would be a logical step for all governments in the Caribbean basin to expedite any plans for cruise operations in their areas.
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