Cayman Islands to lift restrictions on the number of cruise ships

Apr 15, 2022

With successful Phase I of the reopening for cruise ship visitors, the Cayman Islands will be moving to Phase II in the coming week. This phase means the restrictions on the number of cruise ships docking each day will be removed.

Cruise ships were not allowed to stop in Cayman for 2 long years since March 21, when were the first cases of COVID-19 found on the island. Now in Phase I, between March 21 and April 17, 21 ships, carrying nearly 75,000 passengers, were allowed to stop in Cayman.

Phase II, which starts this Monday, “will continue until the Long-Term Cruise Tourism Strategy is completed, before the end of the year”, the government stated in a press release, adding that the primary difference between Phases I and II is the restrictions on the number of cruise ships has been removed.

Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan, appearing on the Cayman Compass Facebook talk show The Resh Hour Wednesday night, shared that the government is expecting some 60 ships through to June as the transition begins for Phase II.

“Ships will now revert to the normal process of liaising with the Port Authority Cayman Islands for approval to dock, rather than going through the Ministry of Tourism, as was the case for Phase I,” it said.

The same health protocols that exist for Phase I will remain in force for Phase II.

This includes the conditions for all passengers and crew of the cruise to be fully vaccinated and for children under the age of 12 to take on the vaccination status of their parents.

Passenger’s are tested for COVID-19 before boarding the ships but are not required to be tested instantly before landing in Cayman. In any case, anybody who does test positive will not be permitted to disembark.

Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr. Autilia Newton said that during Phase I, there had 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 and have been effective in safeguarding the health of residents,” she said in the statement. “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.”

In the release, Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan said he was very pleased with the success of the return of cruise ships in Phase I and is “looking forward” to the transition to Phase II.

He added 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.”

The Cayman Islands Tourism Association says it had also 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.

Addressing concerns from members of the public about cruise ship passengers not wearing masks, Bryan said the cruise lines have been requested to remind passengers of the mask mandate while onshore and inside premises.

“In our communication with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, 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.”