Cruises back to Colombia
With the arrival of Star Breeze to Cartagena today, cruises are resuming in Colombia. So far, 26 cruise lines are projected to arrive in Cartagena and seven in Santa Marta during the 2021/22 season, and the country expects to recover 57% of the calls it had in the 2019/20 season.
Windstar Cruises' Star Breeze is on a 14-day sailing. Passengers are scheduled to tour Cartagena's San Felipe Fortress and the Old City and take part in an exclusive Colombian coffee tasting.
Other lines booked for Cartagena include Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Scenic, Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America, Princess Cruises and MSC Cruises. Santa Marta's schedule includes Norwegian Cruise Line and The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, among others.
Flavia Santoro, president of tourism promotion agency ProColombia, said cruising generates revenues of more than $60m per season and stakeholders have been working since last year on a safe return for both passengers and destinations.
As part of the reactivation plan led by the Colombian Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, ProColombia worked with the port, cruise terminal and mayor's office of Cartagena, the Ministry of Health, the District Administrative Department of Health of Cartagena-DADIS, and the Cartagena Tourism Corp. (Corpoturismo) as well as tour operators and ships' agents.
Each city with the capacity to receive cruise ships must have an emergency and contingency plan, and 95% of the crew on visiting ships must be vaccinated. Colombia participates in the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association's Central America and South America Task Force to align policies for the reactivation of the cruise industry in the region. The Aquila Center for Cruise Excellence provided training from late January to late February.
Natalia Bohórquez, executive president of Corpoturismo, said the arrival of Star Breeze resulted from a collective effort, and Corpoturismo worked with the port, travel agencies, taxi drivers, guides and tourist attractions so that this first arrival 'contributes to the reactivation of the sector and opens the door to the official cruise season for the city.'
Incentives promoted by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism include the elimination of the Civil Aeronautics exit stamp charged for cruise passengers embarking in Cartagena. And the General Tourism Law was modified in 2020 to incentivize new dock projects.
Colombia claims to be the first country in Latin America to adopt a tourism biosafety seal, Check-in Certificado, endorsed by the World Tourism Organization and the World Travel & Tourism Council. More than 730 companies (hotels, airlines, tour operators, restaurants and others) have received the certification.
CDC ups Bahamas, St. Maarten to Level 4 'very high' risk
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upped the Bahamas and St. Maarten, two of the most important cruise destinations, to a Level 4 'very high' risk for COVID-19 and advised against travel.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism said the CDC designates a 'large number of countries' Level 4 and noted the Bahamas recently tightened protocols to require all travelers 2 and older to present a negative COVID test taken within five days before arrival, regardless of vaccination status.
Also, as earlier reported, beginning Sept. 3, all cruise passengers 12 and older will have to be vaccinated for COVID-19 for ships to call in the Bahamas, including private islands.
Hurtigruten resumes expeditions with its third hybrid ship
Hurtigruten Expeditions is back sailing today as Otto Sverdrup — the line's third battery-powered hybrid ship — begins the first year-round expedition cruises from Germany.
Having completed a full upgrade, Otto Sverdrup will operate year-round expeditions from Hamburg to the Norwegian coast.
'We saw the travel industry’s global pause as a golden opportunity to invest, upgrade and improve our ships and product,' Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen said.
Late September, Hurtigruten's Maud is to start the first year-round UK-based expedition cruises. In addition to the closer-to-home departures from Hamburg and Dover, Hurtigruten Expeditions' 2022/23 program also includes Antarctica, West Africa, Alaska and, from January, the Galápagos Islands.
Scenic Eclipse plans Antarctica start in January
Scenic Eclipse will resume sailings with a 16-day Antarctica voyage departing Jan 5, 2022.
From April 26, 2022, the Scenic vessel will cruise the Mediterranean, starting with its 12-day ‘Incredible Iberian Discovery’ itinerary from Lisbon to Barcelona.