With lockdowns being eased, and at least a few cruise destinations talking about welcoming cruise ships back in the next few months, the industry looks set to get back on its feet soon, but some destinations might not open up for months to come.
Mass tourism remains an existential threat so long as there remains no vaccine for Coronavirus, and at least six popular cruise destinations have indicated that they are not yet ready to open up to foreign visitors.
This could present a challenge to cruise lines as they prepare to get their ships back in operations.
So far, the Bahamas seem to be the only destination with a set plan to welcome them.
Australia has extended its nationwide ban on cruise ship arrivals to September, and may extend it further based on global conditions regarding Coronavirus. The ban was first introduced in March and was due to expire in June.
The ban applies to all ports across the country (so Australia’s most popular cruise destinations – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Fremantle, Adelaide and Newcastle – are out), but doesn’t include cruise ships carrying fewer than 100 passengers.
This ban applies to domestic cruises as well, but if cruises that don’t leave Australia waters are eventually allowed, its unlikely that American fly-cruise tourists would be allowed in anytime soon, given the spread of the virus in the United States.
There is some hope that Australian and New Zealand talks of a ‘travel bubble’ between the two countries could eventually see cruises between them allowed, so long as only Australian and New Zealand ports are visited.
P&O Australia, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America, Silversea, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises are all frequent visitors to the country during the annual cruise season.
The Cayman Islands have also banned cruise ship arrivals until at least September, with the tourism minister recently saying that he doesn’t expect to see them able to visit the island nation until the end of the year.
“I don’t think that we’re going to see cruise vessels back in Grand Cayman [in the] second [quarter], third quarter or fourth quarter, to be quite honest,” Moses Kirkconnell was quoted as saying. He did insist, however, that a tourism plan is being developed.
The Cayman Islands took one of the most extreme precautionary approaches to the virus when it first began to spread outside China. It closed its borders to cruise ships in February, a full month before other destinations started to do the same.
As a result, it has suffered just 121 cases of the virus among its population of 64,000.
The Cayman Islands are a popular cruise destination in the Caribbean. It’s capital, Georgetown, has 555 cruise itineraries scheduled to call during 2021. In 2019, more than 1.9-million cruise tourists visited the island, and there are plans to build a cruise terminal so that visitors don’t have to tender ashore.
Every major cruise line in the world visits the Cayman Islands, but Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Princess, Norwegian, Celebrity and Disney Cruise Line are some of the most frequent.
The Seychelles has taken the strictest approach to cruise tourism thus far, extending its ban on cruise ship arrivals to the end of next year. Like the Cayman Islands, the Seychelles took a super-cautious approach to the pandemic, closing its ports and airport in April.
As a result, it has seen just 11 cases among its population of 90,000, and no deaths.
Port Victoria is the main cruise port in the country, but it is a minor cruise destination on the global map. Some 361,844 tourists visited the Seychelles in 2018, only around 10% of them on cruise ships.
It is a popular destination for cruise ships on long-distance repositioning cruises or grand voyages between Europe and Asia.
Oceania Cruises, Norwegian, MSC Cruises, Holland America, Seabourn and Costa Cruises were scheduled to call in Port Victoria on 55 cruise itineraries during 2021.
Argentina, like the Cayman Islands and Seychelles, has implemented one of the world’s strictest travel bans to combat the spread of Coronavirus, which hit the country particularly badly, but was brought under control fast.
All international flights have been banned until September 1st and while the country is now considering lifting the lockdown, it is unlikely that tourism or cruise ships will be welcomed anytime soon.
Argentina’s cruise season doesn’t begin until November, so that could change in the months ahead.
The capital, Buenos Aires, is the main cruise hub for South America cruises, with Princess, Holland America, Silversea and Regent are visiting while MSC Cruises homeports in the city. Smaller expedition cruise ships also frequent Argentina’s southern port of Ushuaia in the winter on Antarctica itineraries.
Canada’s ban on cruise ship arrivals is due to expire on July 1st, but there are growing indications that it may be extended, either nationally or for specific ports.
Canada’s British Columbia ports of Vancouver and Victoria are key destinations on Alaskan cruises, while its east coast ports such as Halifax, Nova Scotia; St. John, New Brunswick; St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador; and Quebec City, Quebec, are also popular.
Officials in Maine are debating extending a requirement that visitors during the coming summer self-quarantine for 14 days, essentially making all forms of tourism, especially cruise tourism, impossible. The order will be relaxed in stages each month based on local conditions.
The port of Bar Harbor has banned all cruise ship arrivals until at least July 1st. The port is a major cruise destination for the state as its a gateway to Acadia National Park in the summer and fall with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn and Crystal Cruises all visiting during the season on around 120 itineraries.
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