(CMR) Based on the success of the reintroduction of cruise ships during Phase I, Cabinet has approved for the industry to transition to Phase II, removing restrictions on the number of ships allowed to call on Grand Cayman.
Ships will now revert to the normal process of liaising with the Port Authority Cayman Islands (PACI) for approval to dock, rather than going through the Ministry of Tourism, as was the case for Phase I.
Phase II will take effect from Monday 18th April 2022 and will continue until the Long Term Cruise Tourism Strategy is completed before the end of the year.
All health protocols from Phase I, which have evidently proven successful, will remain in place for Phase II. These include the requirements for all cruise passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated in order to disembark the ship in Grand Cayman. Children under 12 will continue to assume the vaccination status of their parents, and no one who tests positive will be allowed to disembark the ship, whether they are symptomatic or not.
Chief Medical Officer of Health (Interim) Dr. Autilia Newton confirmed that during Phase I, there has not been a significant change in the number of new COVID-19 cases.
“The stringent health protocols implemented by the Cayman Islands Government exceed the guidelines issued by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and have been effective in safeguarding the health of residents,” she said.
“Furthermore, Public Health’s analysis of cruise passenger data collected during Phase I have not found any evident link between the number of COVID-19 cases currently on Island and cruise passenger arrivals,” Dr. Newton said.
Commenting on the success of Phase I, Hon. Kenneth Bryan, Minister for Tourism and Transport, noted that he was very pleased with the success of the return of cruise ships and is looking forward to the transition to Phase II. He also stated that businesses are reporting an increase in the uptake of services.
“This is advantageous for our tourism stakeholders and the country as a whole. Even though things are going well, as the sector moves to Phase II, we will remain vigilant in our monitoring of global trends, particularly with respect to COVID-19 health protocols to ensure that our people stay protected,” he said.
With the resumption of cruise tourism, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) has seen an immediate increase in business.
“Despite the lower ship occupancy and the restricted number of ships, there has been a surge in visitor activity. This indicates a very strong demand from the cruise industry and cruise guests for our Cayman activities,” said Troy Leacock, CITA Vice President, and Watersports Director.
Minister Bryan also noted that cruise lines had been requested to remind passengers of the mask mandate while onshore and inside premises based on public feedback about passengers not wearing masks.
“In our communication with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), announcing the move to Phase II, the Cayman Islands government has asked cruise lines to step up their passenger communication to ensure that passengers are aware of the need to adhere to our on-island safety protocols, particularly social distancing, and mask-wearing while indoors at retail outlets and restaurants,” said Minister Bryan.