Recent events concerning an additional year-long shut down of operations in Canada, the slow-moving CDC which has not yet given out instructions on how to proceed with test cruises, and the general uncertainty of when cruises will be resuming in the U.S. are worrying facts for the entire industry. Yet, there seems to be a small light at the end of the tunnel.
The Mexican island of Cozumel is now investigating what the chances and opportunities are to become a homeport, to at least some ships.
While the island would be far too small to offer anything remotely like the infrastructure set up in most U.S. homeports, the island has a significant amount of docking areas. As a homeport, it would allow ships to sail the Caribbean.
Cozumel Talking to European Cruise Lines
Cozumel relies heavily on cruise ship income throughout the year and has been hit hard by the pandemic. Island mayor Pedro Joaquin Delbouis believes that bringing in some ships to homeport from Cozumel will bring life back to the island and provide much-needed income at the same time.
The mayor has already been in contact with the management at Swiss-based cruise line MSC Cruises, as Riviera Maya News reported.
As there are no plans from the United States authorities and the Caribbean Cruise Association to have any cruises sailing this first quarter, there isn’t anything stopping the town, Major Pedro Joaquin Delbouis:
“If they cannot leave from the United States, let them make a route to the Caribbean sailing from Cozumel. We know that supply logistics is not easy and more so from an island, but it can be done.”
“There is still no answer with the US lines, but we are in talks with MSC, which previously managed an itinerary through the Caribbean without touching North American soil.”
MSC Cruises has been extremely successful with making cruises from Italy since August last year, which puts the European cruise lines in the top spot to make these plans a reality. Couple that with the fact that the company has significant experience in Cuba and the current flexible travel requirements that Mexico has might make the idea feasible.
Mexico – Is It Wide Open?
A resumption of cruising from Mexico and specifically an island in Mexico would not be a bad idea. The country is currently one of the few countries in the world where travel is unrestricted.
Tourism is currently open for all tourists to visit. There is no mandatory quarantine period, neither is there a need for a COVID diagnostic test to enter the country. The only drawback is that tourists from the U.S. are not allowed to cross the border by car. There are no restrictions for any tourists from the U.S. if they arrive by plane.
The fact that Cozumel is an island also plays into the hand of the cruise lines. Instead of testing all passengers on the pier side, a testing facility could be set up in neighboring Playa Del Carmen. Guests could be tested before they arrive on the island and board any ships.
Does it all sound unrealistic? Keep in mind that cruises are successfully running in both Europe and Asia, and neither of these has had any signs of significant outbreaks or even minor outbreaks.
Cruise lines are busy setting up new health guidelines, and a cruise from Cozumel, or even Havana, could be the next step that the industry takes towards recovery.