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Cruise ships back to Grand Cayman in phased plan

PHOTO: CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE CRUISE_Carnival_ships_Grand_Cayman.jpg
Carnival Paradise and Carnival Sunrise, here, called Grand Cayman on Wednesday, following the first cruise ship back, Disney Magic, on Monday
Cruise ships began returning to the Cayman Islands this week in a two-phase plan, and Premier Wayne Panton advocated for a lower volume, higher value cruise business.

The first phase, through April 17, will see 21 calls by 15 ships with capacity for a total maximum 74,208 passengers.

COVID protocols for cruise ships include an advance health declaration form and full vaccination for crew and for passengers ages 12 and older (unvaccinated children under 12 are allowed). No COVID-positive passengers or crew or their close contacts will be permitted ashore, whether asymptomatic or not.

Mask mandate indoors

A shoreside mask mandate indoors is in effect through the end of April, when it will be reassessed. Masking outdoors is no longer required.

'The conservative reintroduction of cruise tourism is aimed at supporting our economy,' Panton said in a media briefing before the restart. A phased return will allow monitoring.

While not all businesses that have historically catered to cruise visitors are open, 'I think there will be enough operational to provide a significant flavor of the wonderful tourism products that we offer in Cayman,' Panton said.

Ship schedule

Disney Magic became the first ship back, on Monday, followed today by Carnival Paradise and Carnival Sunrise. On March 24, Carnival Glory and Celebrity Apex are due in, with Emerald Princess to arrive March 25. Disney Fantasy and MSC Seashore are booked March 29, Celebrity Reflection March 30 and Rotterdam March 31.

The April schedule opens with Celebrity Edge April 1, Carnival Vista, Carnival Paradise and Carnival Sunrise April 6, Celebrity Apex April 7, Carnival Pride April 8, MSC Seashore and Carnival Pride April 12, Carnival Horizon and Celebrity Edge April 13 and Celebrity Equinox April 17.  

According to the premier, the vessels selected for phase one were risk-weighted, with an attempt to focus on the lowest-level of risk — that is, ships making Cayman their first stop. That's the case for about 20% to 30% of them, he estimated.

'We don't want mass cruise tourism'

As cruising resumes, 'In principle, we agree broadly that we don't want the country to return to a high-volume, low-quality experience,' Panton said. 'We don't want mass cruise tourism. What we want to have is cruise tourism that is at a reasonable amount that the country can accommodate and at the same time have the Caymanian businesses and Caymanian workers in that industry earn a higher return.'

Panton indicated discussions about this have taken place with the cruise lines and their representatives who visited in the past weeks.

Aim for lower volume, higher value business

'We need to see a lower quantity, lower volume, higher value cruise industry for Cayman and Caymanians. And they have all acknowledged that is a very legitimate perspective and they will be very supportive of us moving in that direction,' he said.

The premier added his optimism that 'We will be able to transform what was a mass tourism approach and lower value to one with a more moderate volume but much higher value for the country.'

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