• JIS News

    Assistant Vice-President for Marketing and Communications at the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Kimberly Stiff, says while there are “still things to be worked out”, many locals have been benefiting from the return of cruise ships.

    In an interview with JIS News, Ms. Stiff said the trickle-down benefits have been such where stakeholders, including craft traders, shop owners and transport operators, have been very vocal in welcoming back the ships, and have been “expressing confidence that things can only get better”.

    “Have things been perfect where everybody is happy…absolutely not. We have, however, been hearing some things about locals not benefiting from the cruise business, which are simply not true,” Ms. Stiff explained.

    “It is true that not everybody will be able to benefit all at once, but we at the PAJ and our partners have been working overtime to ensure that as we go along… when we are able to get more ships and have our people fully vaccinated and tested… we can facilitate visits to many more locations,” she added.

    The PAJ Executive also pointed out that cruise owners are guided by directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and are very careful where their passengers go following disembarkation at any port of call, including Jamaica.

    She added that ship itineraries are set in advance and local authorities are in no position to change, alter or influence what to do, “unless, of course, the decision to dock threatens the health and safety of the host nation as well as the cruise visitors… as in the case of a hurricane or a pandemic outbreak on board the vessel”.

    “We work closely with the Ministry of Health, and they decide on the protocols, which are mandatory for both locals and visitors. Our job is to try and get the ships here and to create the facilities for a smooth and seamless visit… we cannot dictate or act counter to the wishes of the cruise lines or the CDC,” she said.

    Meanwhile, Chief Strategist and Senior Adviser in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright, said it is clear that “the cruise lines or even the stopover visitors want to go to destinations that are fully vaccinated”.

    “The only way we can be in full control of our own destiny is to have our people fully vaccinated. There are no ifs or buts or maybes. We either get fully vaccinated and tested or we will continue to have problems,” he told JIS News.

    For his part, Regional Manager/Sales Manager for On Board Media for Carnival Cruise Lines, William Oldam, in a communique to local stakeholders, said the cruise line was also following the lead of Jamaica’s Ministry of Health and Wellness.

    “At this point there are tight restrictions as they relate to the movement of cruise passengers. These restrictions have been determined by the island’s Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW). These were the conditions that permitted a return of cruise calls to Ocho Rios by the Carnival Cruise Lines,” Mr. Oldam wrote.

    “There are [several] ways passengers are permitted to leave the port facility in Ocho Rios. The first one is on a restricted Pre-booked Tour as sold on the vessel. These tours have been vetted and the tours/locations approved by the MOHW and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) – only available to Vaccinated Passengers,” he noted.

    Mr. Oldam said guests are not permitted to walk off the port in any sort of exploratory way. (more)

    “We continue to work with the MOHW to find ways that we can expand the offering, but keep in mind that Jamaica is presently undergoing a surge that is the highest since the pandemic began,” he added.

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