Feature
Harmony of the Sea, the second largest cruise ship in the world, makes a call at the Falmouth Port.
Photo: Contributed

Story Highlights

  • Tourism stakeholders are putting the necessary health protocols and other safeguards in place, in preparation for a possible return of cruise ships to the island ports.
  • Chief Executive Officer of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, Marc Melville tells JIS News that the absence of the cruise ships has taken a huge financial toll on many local tourism entities, including those in the craft and duty free shopping sectors, as well as transportation/tour operators.
  • “There have however been some encouraging signs in recent times that all is not lost and that cruise shipping could after all make a much anticipated return in 2020. This would be like the proverbial manna from heaven, especially for those entities that have built or centred their business model around the cruise shipping industry,” he says.

Tourism stakeholders are putting the necessary health protocols and other safeguards in place, in preparation for a possible return of cruise ships to the island ports.

Chief Executive Officer of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, Marc Melville tells JIS News that the absence of the cruise ships has taken a huge financial toll on many local tourism entities, including those in the craft and duty free shopping sectors, as well as transportation/tour operators.

“There have however been some encouraging signs in recent times that all is not lost and that cruise shipping could after all make a much anticipated return in 2020. This would be like the proverbial manna from heaven, especially for those entities that have built or centred their business model around the cruise shipping industry,” he says.

Mr. Melville points out that no other sector in global tourism has been hit as hard as cruise shipping, due to the fallout from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

He further notes that over the last six months there has been focus on restoring passenger confidence and ways to get the industry sailing again.

“We in the attractions sector have been contacted by many of the cruise lines, including the two biggest [Carnival and Royal Caribbean], and have been working with them on how we plan on executing the shore side experience,” Mr. Melville informs.

“In addition to their strategy, they have given us a lot of preliminary guidelines on how they want us to operate with them and we have assured them that we would have the capacity in a ready state for when they come and that our experiences, as you can imagine, will be an extension of their protocols…safety and sanitization standards, etc.,” he further states.

For his part, Senior Director of the Royal Shop chain of duty fee stores, Ravi Daswani, says a return of the cruise ships in 2020 would not only be welcoming news, but a major boost to the struggling tourism sector.

“Cruise shipping is a major complement to stopover arrivals and has been sadly missed for the past six months. It is no secret that Jamaica and the Caribbean are the preferred ports of call and that there are a lot of businesses that rely on the cruise ships as their main sources of income,” Mr. Daswani states.

Meanwhile, Chairman of Jamaica’s National Cruise Council (NCC) Michael Belnavis says that the ultimate decision as to whether cruise ships are given the greenlight to sail from the United States in 2020, lies with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whose ‘no sail’ order for cruise ships is in effect through September.

“That will be the key and that will depend a lot on how the CDC can be convinced that the cruise lines have enacted all the necessary health and safety protocols to keep their passengers and the countries they are visiting safe. If they indeed resume sailing in 2020, it would be a thunderstorm after the drought,” Mr. Belnavis posits.

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