After several months of absence due to the health crisis, the first liners are calling in the Caribbean. Visits are strictly supervised, which displeases small traders who have been shunned by tourists. Martinique expects its first liner by mid-October 2021.
Most Caribbean countries that host cruise ships are designated level 4 (travel strongly discouraged) by the CDC (United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Martinique, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Sint Maarten are among these countries. The rate of Covid-10 is too high.
The Covid-19 virus spreads easily between people who live nearby on ships and the possibility of catching the virus on an ocean liner is high.
New safety measures on board
In order to maintain routes, companies like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Virgin Voyages only accept vaccinated cruise passengers. Aircrew must also be immunized.
To ensure social distancing guidelines, these cruise lines do not exceed a 75% occupancy rate.
“We are hungry, we need customers…”
Caribbean countries have imposed their own health rules on cruise passengers. In the Bahamas, passengers and crew members who wish to get off the liner must be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The island of Saint Kitts and Nevis, which has just completed the construction of a new quay to accommodate cruise ships, received its first stopover on September 14, 2021. Visits have been strictly supervised. No more question of walking freely in the cities.
These measures have created a lot of tension in the city of Ocho Rios located in the north of Jamaica. Authorities have opened tourist attractions for cruise passengers, but residents are confined to better control the spread of the pandemic.
Only validated sites are open to visitors who must be transported only by approved drivers.
Craft markets have been placed out of the loop.
We are hungry. We need customers. If we can’t work, what’s the point of welcoming cruise ships here?
Local authorities explain that it is the cruise companies that impose the itineraries on customers.
Wealthy organizations benefit more than the Jamaican people who have been working in crafts for years.
The same scenario happened in Saint Lucia. Peter “Ras Ipa Isaac”, president of the Association of Handicraft Sellers told the press that cruise passengers have avoided local markets.
In Ocho Rios, cruise passengers shunned craft vendors.
Martinique soon open to cruising
The first stopovers of the liners in Martinique are expected around October 15, 2021. By the end of the year, 32 stopovers are planned at Fort de France. According to sites specializing in cruises, the Fort-de-France stopover is already sold out from October 15, 2021. However, the Martiniquais Tourism Committee is not so sure.
These are stopover forecasts only. Requests for berths are made several months or even years in advance. For example, last season we had a forecast of 200 stopovers and of course no liner stopped in Martinique during the pandemic.
At this time, the date and terms of resuming the cruise are undecided.
If it is true that the companies wish to position some of their ships from the end of the year, the decision will depend on the services of the State in Martinique only.
Cruise ship docked at Pointe Simon in Fort de France.
Regardless of the level of contamination in the Caribbean, cruise lines and the countries that host them have decided to resume activities, wiped out by the health crisis.
Everyone hopes that the new health instructions will work, which will perhaps make it possible to regain the attendance rate recorded before Covid-19.