Cruising to the Cayman Islands is about to return, with the first ship set to arrive just after Christmas.
Holland America will bring the Nieuw Statendam to the Cayman Islands on December 28, the first ship to arrive at the Caribbean location in more than 21 months.
As one of the last territories to open its borders to travelers, Cayman Islands officials are taking several precautions in allowing cruising to return.
“The health and safety of our people and visitors to our shores continues to be a priority in our phased reopening plan,” Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan told the Caribbean Journal. “Currently over 1,000 Caymanians are displaced due to the closure of our ports, and as we safely reopen our borders, the cruise sector will be a key part of the tourism industry’s recovery.”
The Holland America ship is the only one planned for the islands at this point, though more arrivals are anticipated in the near future.
“This single cruise ship call presents an opportunity for us to find the safest way to welcome back our cruise visitors while we can continue to navigate the challenges of the pandemic,” Bryan said.
He and other officials have been in discussions with leaders in the cruise industry for quite some time about restarting cruises.
“This has been an ongoing conversation with the cruise industry about what conditions are required to make this a safe experience for everyone involved and how to make that feasible,” Bryan said. “My people can be assured that my approach and negotiation strategy is for quality first.”
The conditions include a number of restrictions on the cruise line and its passengers, who will be departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
1. First Port Stop
The Holland America ship, and presumably other cruises in the near future, must make the Cayman Islands the first port of call on the itinerary.
2. Limited Capacity
Ships arriving in the Cayman Islands will be limited to 1,600 passengers. In the case of the Holland America ship, this is about 60 percent capacity.
3. Guests And Crew Vaccinations
All passengers arriving at the Cayman Islands who plan to disembark must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to the start of the cruise.
4. Guest And Crew COVID Tests
Passengers must also have a negative PCR or antigen test within 48 hours of disembarking the ship.
5. Local Rules
Passengers who disembark must follow local mask and social distancing rules. The Cayman Islands is currently in Phase 4 of its reopening plan, which places restrictions on some activities but allows visitors to most locations. It has also lifted a curfew.
Holland America Rules
In addition to the rules specific to the Cayman Islands, Holland America has its own rules regarding travel on any of its ships. It also requires all passengers 12 and older to be fully vaccinated and to have a negative test prior to boarding.
Holland America will also provide a test at no charge for any passengers needing one to disembark at any point.
Staff on board the ship are always masked, and passengers are required to wear masks in the terminal and on board in select indoor areas of the ship.
The ships have been equipped with enhanced air filtration systems, have hand washing and hand sanitizer stations around the ship, and have 24/7 medical care available on board.