The Cayman Islands has announced its plan to reopen international travel, including the much-anticipated return of cruise ships. However, the return of cruising to Grand Cayman may have to wait until the end of January 2022.
When Can Cruise Ships Return to Grand Cayman?
We knew the Cayman islands would be close for much of this year, and now the Caribbean destination has detailed its plan on reopening to international travel, including cruise tourism. The government has five phases of reopening, and once all the phases have been completed successfully, only then will cruise ships be able to make a return.
A limited introduction of tourism will reopen on September 9, 2021, but this will not include cruise travel. Authorities will assess the completed phases on January 27, 2022, and at this time, cruise tourism will be allowed to resume.
Minister for Tourism and Transport, Hon. Kenneth Bryan, said:
“Since March 2020, the Cayman Islands has been deliberate in all efforts to protect our people and visitors; from rapid and widespread testing, investing in the Caymanian workforce and implementing a phased strategy to safely reopen our shores to luxury-seeking visitors, the health and safety of our community was paramount in all decisions.”
“My colleagues and I in government have worked tirelessly to develop this phased approach in preparation for the opening of our borders to international travellers – and we are pleased to announce the wait for paradise is almost over! Our guests will appreciate the impactful developments and enhancements we’ve made to the destination – surely proving that Cayman is worth the wait.”
George Town, Grand Cayman, which is among the most popular western Caribbean cruise destinations, has remained closed to cruise ships since the pandemic first started to hit in Spring 2020. In early 2021, Premier Alden McLaughlin said that it was doubtful that cruise ships would return before 2022:
“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.”
Also Read: Things to Do in Grand Cayman During a Cruise
Five Phase Reopening
- Phase 1: Reduced Quarantine Period | June 2021
In this stage, the Cayman Islands has reduced quarantine periods and eased other travel restrictions. For fully vaccinated and securely verified travellers, a mandatory five-day quarantine is in place; unvaccinated travellers are required to undergo a 14-day isolation period.
- Phase 2: Reduced Repatriation Restrictions | August 9, 2021
In this phase, additional travel restrictions will be eased, including the removal of GPS monitoring. All local businesses must adhere to the advanced safety protocols issued by regulators and Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) guidelines. All travellers will continue to apply for entry authorisation via the Travel Cayman Portal.
- Phase 3: Limited Introduction of Tourism | September 9, 2021
This phase, subject to the achievement of 80% on-island vaccination rate, will allow for a limited introduction of tourists with secure verification of vaccination status. Cruise travel will not be permitted during this phase. All travellers will continue to apply for entry via the Travel Cayman Portal.
- Phase 4: Reduced Quarantine Restrictions | October 14, 2021
Quarantine requirements will be removed for all securely verified, fully vaccinated travellers. Unvaccinated visitors will be required to apply for entry via Travel Cayman and quarantine upon arrival for a 14-day period. Additionally, all travellers must declare travel and vaccination status on the Travel Cayman Portal.
- Phase 5: Travel for Unvaccinated Children | November 18, 2021
While cruise tourism remains prohibited at this stage, unvaccinated children (under age 12) will now be allowed to travel with vaccinated adult tourists; no quarantine period will be required for children. Unvaccinated visitors above the age of 12 will be required to quarantine for 14-days.
- Welcome Back | Assessed January 27, 2022
Once the country has completed all five phases and following a thorough assessment from the Government and health officials, the Cayman Islands will celebrate its Grand Re-Opening, welcoming all travellers without quarantine or travel restrictions. At this time, cruise tourism may resume.
Several Caribbean islands have already reopened for cruise ships along with cruise line private islands and the Bahamas. Each destination has its own set of requirements and plans to let visitors back in. A planned call to Bimini during Carnival Horizon’s first cruise back was canceled just last week due to increased cases.
The Cayman Islands is more cautious on reopening, but hopefully, as 2022 arrives, the situation will have improved, and the first cruise ships can resume to Grand Cayman in later January.