The Ministry of Tourism is vying for Cayman to be added as a first port of call as part of efforts to allow cruise ships to safely return to the islands.

One of the hurdles to bringing cruise ships back is the mid-voyage placement of the Cayman Islands on cruise schedules, Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan explained at a meeting with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, on Thursday, 29 July.

He said that, on most routes, the cruise ships stop at other destinations before reaching Cayman. That means that even if passengers are vaccinated and have provided negative COVID test results before boarding, they would be mingling with people at destinations such as Jamaica or South American countries before arriving here.

Bryan said that his ministry had suggested to the cruise lines that Cayman could be considered as a first port option, but they responded that this was not possible because of fuelling issues.

“I’m asking my team if there is an incentive that we can offer from a fuelling perspective  to get them here first,” the minister said. “If we can get them to Cayman before they go on to another jurisdiction which is a higher risk, then we can solve the concerns about safety.”

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Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan addresses the members of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association on 29 July. – Photo: Alvaro Serey

Cayman has one of the highest vaccination rates in the Caribbean, and there have been no reports of community transmission of COVID-19 here since last year.

Under Cayman’s phased reopening plan, cruise ships will not be allowed to come here until next year, but Bryan said if the cruise lines could demonstrate that they meet all the safety protocols that the Cayman Islands government require, they may be introduced earlier.

He added that once those safety protocols were met, there would be no need for a phased re-introduction of the ships.

“I don’t think we want to hold back any more customers once we get to that safety zone,” he said. “We want people making money again. Obviously, we don’t want the port congested all at one time and it’d be in a controlled manner. Hypothetically speaking, magically, if things were safe and happy and everything was controlled, we would welcome cruise ships in tomorrow.”

Most of the cruise lines that previously were regular visitors to Cayman now require their adult passengers to be vaccinated. A recent court challenge over such a requirement means that passengers boarding ships in Florida – the main embarkation point for most of the cruises that come to Cayman – cannot legally be required in that state to provide proof that they have been vaccinated.

However, cruise lines with ships leaving from Florida say passengers are being asked to voluntarily show proof of vaccination. Passengers who do not demonstrate that they have received their jabs will be considered to be unvaccinated and will be required to undergo COVID tests while on board and adhere to mask-wearing and social-distancing rules. Also, certain venues on the ship will only be open to vaccinated travellers.

The Cayman Islands stopped allowing cruise ships to dock here on 16 March last year.

Cayman’s first recorded case of coronavirus involved an Italian passenger from the Costa Luminosa cruise ship who came ashore for medical treatment after he suffered a heart attack. He was later diagnosed with COVID-19 and died on 14 March at Health City Cayman Islands.

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  1. We do not need cruise ships. We should target stayover visitors as an upmarket destination that is not flooded with mostly scrooge type cruise sheep who travel in flocks and swamp our tourist attractions. This would separate us from the run of the mill Caribbean destinations and provide a major incentive to the wealthy traveller.

  2. There should be no rush to allow cruise ships to return, and certainly not under the same market conditions where the balance of power still rests with the cruise lines.

    The CI government should use this time to join forces with the other governments of Caribbean nations that are also cruise destination – and they should form OTEC….the Organization of Tourism Exporting Countries. Similar to what OPEC has done with oil. It is time for the countries of the Caribbean to dictate the terms to the cruise lines. Otherwise we will all continue to just give away our resources for pennies, instead of dollars, and be at the mercy of the cruise lines. It should be time for a new reality for the cruise lines….one where all terms of their business in the Caribbean are dictated to them by the Caribbean nations speaking as one.

  3. Hey Trusty2man D.
    My wife and I live in Miami, own property on the island and most likely spend more on the isle in four months than you do in a year.
    We have not been welcomed back in 14 months.
    Cayman is a “run of the mill destination”.
    Unless you open up in the very near future you will pray for the cruise ships and their passengers.

  4. Why not start with allowing all property owners with vaccines to stay without a quarantine before even considering cruise ships?!
    Tell me how in the world you could “verify” vaccines of thousands of cruise ship passengers?

  5. As of today Aug. 4 Cayman Compass’ Vaccine Tracker has CI at 71% for the first jab and stubbornly stuck at 67% for 2 jabs for more than 1 week now. With a 4 week gap between 1st & 2nd jabs you would need to be at 80% in about 1 week (Aug. 11) with 1 jab to be at 80% with 2 jabs by Sept. 9.
    That is providing ALL 1st jabs get the 2nd jab. Not going to happen.