Caribbean cruises and COVID-19 outbreaks on board have been in the news since the start of the pandemic. With the omicron variant spreading so rapidly, giant ships are once again making headlines. No later than Tuesday, 89 of those floating cities, which Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal described as “petri dishes,” have confirmed outbreaks of COVID-19.
Write for The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield collected the views of passengers over the Christmas holidays.
Peterson and four other Carnival Freedom passengers who spoke to the Washington Post spent much of their Christmas time avoiding public areas of their ship, not knowing how many people have tested positive or have unintentionally spread the virus. A passenger on a recent trip on the same ship – who self-isolated in a Miami hotel because he tested positive the day after the cruise – told The Post that his six-day Caribbean vacation had become a month-long ordeal because he couldn’t go home. in Canada.
Sitting in her cabin on Christmas Day, Peterson paused to listen to a ship-wide announcement, wondering if that would answer her questions about infections on board her ship.
â€œOh, they’re only talking about the weather,â€ she said. â€œThey come every day; you think they’re going to tell us about covid, and it’s, “We’re passing through this island and it’s 82 degrees.” “
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just announced surveys of dozens of cruise ships.
According to the CDC website, 68 ships have either reached the agency’s “investigation threshold” into crew or passenger COVID-19 outbreaks, or a health department has alerted the agency of affected passengers of COVID-19 that landed within five days.
The CDC is investigating 36 ships. It has already investigated 32 additional vessels, but these vessels remain “under observation”, the agency said.
The affected ships are from cruise lines such as Disney, MSC Cruises, Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity.
Much of the public reaction in Puerto Rico â€” who faces a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases– was alarming. Many Puerto Ricans are expressing on social media the feeling that “tourists are staying at home”, especially after learning that ships turned back by other islands would dock in the United States.
Like Primera Hora reported on December 22:
More than 20,000 tourists will visit Puerto Rico on cruise ships this week, the Tourism Company reported on Wednesday.
The San Juan docks will receive visitors on various cruise ships, resulting in an economic impact of about $ 2.8 million, the agency said.
How essential is the cruise industry to the Caribbean economy? here is some data.
Spanning 2.75 million square kilometers, with around seven thousand islands, more than 20 border countries, and sunny temperatures all year round, the Caribbean Sea has become the main hub for cruise tourism in the world. In recent years, the region has reached about a third of the overall passenger capacity, well beyond the Mediterranean as the most important market for this type of tourism.The Caribbean Sea is part of the Central American Sea, located on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean. The United States, the closest global player to the Caribbean region on the North American continent, has been the first country of origin for cruise passengers in 2018, with more than double the share of cruise passengers from the other nine countries in the ranking. Brazil, the only Latin American country on the list that year, accounted for about two percent of global cruise passengers, suggesting that despite the geographic proximity, cruise tourism remains a luxury services in the global travel and tourism industry.
Write for Skift, gGlobal travel journalist Lebawit Lily Girma examines the emerging impact of omicron on the region.
The region’s tourism vulnerability to the pandemic will continue to impact its full economic recovery, as source markets increasingly restrict travel due to a rapidly spreading and little understood Omicron variant. Now is the time for a good number of islands to double their access and lag behind in vaccine use.
The Caribbean region, being among the most dependent on tourism in the world, is expected to be among the hardest hit by the global fallout from the pandemic. The World Travel & Tourism Council predicted that the economic impact of Covid on the islands would result in a loss of $ 42 billion in gross domestic product and 1.9 million jobs lost in 2020.
At least nine destinations are expected to exceed 2019 levels between December 17 and January 2 as of current confirmations of international Christmas flights. But heIt is too early to determine to what extent Omicron could impact these additional plans and flights through 2022 given the fluidity of the pandemic, particularly if re-entry rules intensify for travelers or if the variant. proves harmful to destinations in the region with low Covid vaccination rates.
As governments in major source markets such as Canada, which strongly advised against overseas travel on Wednesday, and parts of Europe continue to impose tighter restrictions amid a rapidly spreading variant , the rebound in tourism in the Caribbean in 2022 is at stake.
While it is easy for some people to protest tourism, the reality of much of the Caribbean dependent on it makes it difficult to change its dynamics. There are however those who have a different point of view, such as the Center for responsible travel (CREST), which produced this 45-minute film in 2016 to show “that the Caribbean is more than traditional resort and cruise tourism”.
For further, Dr Martha Honey, the CEO of Responsible Travel Consulting and co-founder and former executive director of CREST, has written and edited several books on this subject. Each has a different perspective on the issues for the Caribbean, including Caribbean Cruise Tourism: Selling Sunshine and Ecotourism and sustainable development: who owns paradise?
I’m not sure if you’ve ever taken a Caribbean cruise, or planned to do so, or if you live in the Caribbean and have opinions about the tourism industry and tourists. If this applies to you, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, where you’ll also find the weekly Caribbean News Twitter Roundup.
We’ll see each other there.
CDC issued revised guidelines on Thursday cruise ship trips. The essential? Do not do it.
December 30, 2021
The COVID-19 Travel Health Advisory level has been updated from Level 3 to Level 4, the highest level. This reflects the increase in cases aboard cruise ships since the identification of the Omicron variant.
Avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status. If you are traveling on a cruise ship, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel and receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine if you are eligible. Getting the vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself from serious illness, slow the spread of COVID-19, and reduce the number of new variants. People who are not fully immunized should follow additional recommendations before, during, and after to travel.