KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Cruise operations resumed in Jamaica yesterday, Monday, August 16th, 2021. The Carnival Sunshine was scheduled to call at the Port of Ocho Rios and is the first cruise ship with international passengers to call at a Jamaican port since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It marks a major step in the phased reopening of Jamaica’s tourism sector, which has been adversely impacted by the global pandemic.
“I am very pleased to advise that Jamaica will finally see the return of cruise on Monday August 16th. We welcome this resumption as we know that thousands of Jamaicans depend on the cruise shipping industry for their livelihood, and it will have a positive impact on our economy in general,” said Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett.
“I want to assure the public that this call is being managed in accordance with strict health and safety COVID-19 protocols which are guided by global standards and best practices to ensure the safety and protection of our citizens as well as visitors. Additionally, the vessel is being managed in alignment with the Conditional Sailing Order for Simulated and Restricted Voyages promulgated by the US Center for Disease Control (CDC). The arrival of the Carnival Sunshine on Monday marks a significant milestone in recovery efforts and the resumption of cruise operations, which was suspended in light of the pandemic,” he added.
“Under the strict measures governing the restart of cruise shipping approximately 95% of the crew and passengers are fully vaccinated and all passengers are required to provide evidence of negative results from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of sailing,” Minister Bartlett explained. It was also outlined that in the case of unvaccinated passengers, a PCR test is mandated, and all passengers will also be screened and tested (antigen) on disembarkation.
While on board, the crew will also be required to adhere to strict protocols mandated by the official framework for Conditional Sailing Order. This requires that preventative measures be taken, and surveillance and response mechanisms be present on board at all times.
Professor Gordon Shirley, President & CEO, the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), indicated that “the call by Carnival Sunshine is a representation of months of consistent collaboration and dialogue with our cruise line partners and the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW). These stakeholders provided tremendous support and guidance to assist the PAJ with realigning operations with global standards considering the new COVID-19 operational paradigm. In preparation for the resumption of cruise shipping operations in Jamaica, we have upgraded all our port facilities in accordance with guidelines and COVID-19 protocols and all our ports are retrofitted with isolation rooms and sanitation facilities.”
He added that: “We have worked very closely with the MoHW over the past year and having heeded their advice, followed the science, so the PAJ is confident in our ability to provide our usual award winning cruise passenger experience in a safe and secure environment, despite the challenges of COVID-19. We are truly grateful to the MoHW and our cruise partners for their unwavering support during testing times and look forward to the resumption of our cruise sector as we are cognizant of the significant positive impact the industry has on other businesses and the Jamaican economy in general.”
“We are delighted to be the first cruise ship to return to Jamaica and to offer guests an opportunity to experience all of the country’s beauty,” said Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line. “On behalf of Carnival, I would like to personally thank the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and our partners for working with us to bring safe cruising back to Jamaica,” she added.
Passengers were allowed to disembark the vessel to participate in tours within the COVID-19 Resilient Corridors, which have been in place for stop-over visitors with a demonstrated record of performance for over a year. The positivity rate within the corridors is at 0.6 percent.
The corridors are jointly monitored by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Transport and Mining.
“The Government of Jamaica has been in discussion with several cruise lines, and relevant stakeholders, regarding an efficient restart of cruise operations whilst observing health and safety protocols. We are therefore very happy that this is finally a reality. I commend the efforts of all the stakeholders including the PAJ, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and Jamaica Vacations Limited (JAMVAC) for their contribution to ensuring a safe and secure resumption of cruise operations in Jamaica,” said Minister Bartlett.