Cruise passengers are going to have to wait until the Bahamas feels it’s safe to allow cruise ships to return, possibly in Phase 4 of the country’s reopening plan.
The Bahamas is Cautiously Reopening to Tourism
The Bahamas is planning on opening up even further as the island nation heads into Phase 3 as of October 15, 2020. This is part of the Tourism Readiness & Recovery Plan and it will include the reopening of beaches and major hotels.
The Bahamas is trying to capture tourism ahead of the busy holiday season which will hopefully help the economy recover. Since 1950, tourism has played an integral role in The Bahamas’ economy, accounting for more than 50% of the country’s GDP and 60% of national employment.
Cruise lines have also become an important part of that growth with all the major cruise lines visiting ports in Nassau and Freeport. The region has multiple cruise line private islands including Half Moon Cay for Carnival Corporation, Castaway Cay for Disney Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean’s new Perfect Day at Cococay. These islands are all leased from the Bahamian government.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on tourism and 2020 is completely opposite to 2019’s 7.2 million visitors. There is now hope that cruises can make a comeback to the Bahamas in Phase 4, possibly before the end of the year.
As part of Phase 3, beaches and major hotels will reopen on all islands. Minister of Tourism & Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar announced that all hotel guests must abide by a 14-day Vacation-In-Place (VIP), which will allow guests access to all amenities, including hotel spas, gyms, bars, and more. Additionally, Phase 3 will also see the reopening of attractions, excursions, and tours on November 1.
The government will then start planning for Phase 4 which is good news for the cruise industry as vendors, select attractions, casinos, cruises, and ferries will all get the green light during this time.
The big question is when Phase 4 could happen? It all depends on how successful Phase 3 becomes and the impact of the pandemic throughout the islands. The country will need to make sure health measures are in place at ports and protocols for tours.
There is also currently a “No Sail Order” issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that is set to end on September 30, 2020. That could be extended even further, and if so, may keep ships away from the Bahamas for even longer.
The Bahamas has already announced a ban on U.S. travelers to the country due to the growing infection rates across the U.S. towards the end of July 2020. The ban includes cruise ships and flights.
However, cruise lines in the U.S. have already agreed not to cruise until November 1 at the earliest. We may not see the majority of cruise ships returning to the Bahamas until early 2021 even if the Bahamas gives the green light for visitors.
A date for Phase 4 in the Bahamas will be announced towards the end of the year and Cruise Hive will keep readers updated on all the latest developments.