CIG denies clash with Carnival, as ships bypass Cayman

| 04/03/2020 | 70 Comments
Cayman News Service
Carnival Freedom, one of the two cruise ships diverted from Cayman this week

(CNS): The Ministry of Tourism has offered no explanation as to why two Carnival ships bumped Grand Cayman off their itineraries this week. The Carnival Freedom, which carries around 3,000 passenger, was scheduled to arrive Thursday and the Carnival Horizon, which carries 4,000 passengers, should be calling today, Wednesday, but instead have been diverted to other ports of call.

Local and international media have reported on the fact that Carnival, one of the two cruise lines partnering in the government’s cruise port project, has rerouted these two ships from both the Cayman Islands and Jamaica this week. Carnival also threatened to divert the Carnival Paradise, which was scheduled to arrive Tuesday, away from Cayman, but then reverted to its published itinerary after the apparent intervention of Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell.

On Tuesday afternoon, the ministry issued a statement saying that “there is no truth to reports circulating in the media that Carnival Cruise lines have dropped the Cayman Islands from its Western Caribbean itinerary”, although the question that remains open is not about a blanket dropping of Grand Cayman but about why the two ships were diverted this week.

The change in the itineraries followed the disruption of a ship’s schedule last week, when Cayman and Jamaica both turned away the MSC Meraviglia, which had around 4,500 passengers, even though it turned out that the sick crew member on board did not have coronavirus, as feared, but was ill with influenza. The ship travelled on to Cozumel, Mexico, where it was allowed to dock after health officials there found no evidence that any of the passengers or crew members had coronavirus.

Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton told The Gleaner that the ship had been denied landing because it did not report that they had health concerns on board, as required by law. Tufton said the Jamaican government was unwilling to exercise the flexibility demanded by Carnival.

He told the Gleaner, “Our position is that we can’t give those guarantees because there are certain procedures that are required for them to file, prior to the ship landing or within a certain time, and we require those as a matter of our protocols. They are now saying that we don’t have any protocols and they can’t come to Jamaica, so they are bypassing Jamaica, and I think they may be doing it to St Lucia, too.”

Carnival sent a letter to the passengers of the Carnival Freedom and the Carnival Horizon to explain the change in itinerary, which suggested that the problem surrounded the policies of Jamaica and Cayman.

It read: “We are implementing some itinerary changes on voyages scheduled to call on Grand Cayman and Jamaica this week. A number of Caribbean destinations continue to work through their policies with regards to cruise ship visits. And while we are following all US CDC and World Health Organization screening protocols and guidelines, we want to avoid any possibility of a visit to a destination where there is uncertainty or we risk being turned away.

“To be clear, there is no health situation on board to trigger this concern, but we are making this change to avoid even the possibility of a disruption. We understand some guests will be disappointed and trust they will understand that this decision is being made to protect their vacation and maximize their experience with us.”

In its statement yesterday, the ministry said it “continues to work collaboratively with cruise line partners and are adhering to established medical protocols with respect to the docking of cruise ships and landing of cruise ship passengers”.

Acting Port Director Joey Woods was adamant that there was “no disagreement whatsoever between” the Cayman Islands and Carnival. He told CNS that “the cruise lines have very stringent screening protocols in place in an effort to prevent the introduction or the spread of the virus onboard their vessels and Cayman has well established policies and requirements that have been tweaked to prevent and minimize our risk of exposure.

“We are all working in close collaboration with each other and perhaps itineraries of some ships have been adjusted, not because there are any passengers with the virus or infectious illnesses onboard, but simply because they may be unable to meet Cayman’s requirements for those particular calls.”

Woods added, “I reiterate that we have good collaboration between ourselves, Public Health, CBC and the cruise lines and their local agent. There is nothing to fear and panic about. We are all working closely to achieve the same objective.”

In the release from the ministry, Kirkconnell stated that they were taking very seriously the potential threat posed by the coronavirus. He said, “We are proactively working with industry partners and stakeholders to ensure compliance with the extensive protections put in place by the Ministry of Health to safeguard public health and protect the points of entry into our Islands.

“At the regional level, the Cayman Islands have also participated in discussions with CARICOM leaders and representatives from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to co-operatively establish and implement minimum standards and protocols to help protect the Caribbean community from the coronavirus.”

However, the ministry made no mention about why the Carnival ships are not here this week or what compromises or agreements will have to be made by either party in order to secure future visits.

See the full statement from the ministry here

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (70)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Re ongoing Port/Pier ambitions of this regime, I’m concerned that DOE are consenting to their election of a subcontractor (without any qualification parameters) to proceed to drilling a harmful geological survey, as part of an updated Environmental Impact Assessment, when it should be a central component of an entirely separate Engineering Study at a later date, post future Referendum outcome. Total Cost projections need to be updated to include Lifetime costs, not just to the port/pier structure, but also unintended consequences to resident quality of life and stayover experience, sewage/congestion/attraction pressures, current-fed particulate impacts to SMB and West Wall Diving, tug operation costs, passenger guarantees, maintenance dredging/surveys, insurance, decommissioning and remediation. There should be significant performance bonds for each phase of the total project life, posted in escrow, and given the history of bad faith, there must be a sizable Corporate Social Responsibility component factored into their community relations costs. We need pro negotiators working for the people on this.

  2. Enough with these greedy, idiot politicians!! says:

    Hey Moses! Imagine this headline in the NY Times, BBC and USA Today….”Cayman Islands residents quarantined. Coronavirus suspected.” Imagine the number of fly-in, stay over tourists canceling their flights as a result! Imagine the MASSIVE revenue losses to the national carrier, hotels, tour operators, restaurants, mom and pop Airbnbs! How long would tourists stay away? Weeks? Months? Imagine the reputational damage? Think about how long it’s going to take the Chinese tourism industry to recover! Italy’s tourism is seriously damaged at the moment! Imagine the MASSIVE expense to our HSA! Testing, treatment, and quarantine for dozens of people? Imagine the impact on our financial industry if industry professionals have to work from home for two weeks! These are REAL possibilities!

    Stop f@&$ing with our island and our economy for your own personal gain and that of your family! ENOUGH!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Calm down. You’re probably coronavirus positive already.
      The virus has been around since November. Thousands visited Cayman and residents were traveling the world in the last 120 days. Someone has brought it already to Cayman. Yet, it doesn’t seem to be making people sick.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Princess cruise aka Carinval has like DJ Khaled says Another One a. K. A Corona Ship in Cali today

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why can’t the port authority accurately represent which cruise ships are coming? Does our government not give a crap.

    I know which ships are here because I use a US cruise ship app, but really CIG? Many people rely on this information, especially small businesses. According to CIG the Freedom is here tomorrow, and the Horizon was here today. If cruise tourism is sooo important that we are going to destroy the environment can’t we at least cough up $20k put some School leavers in charge of updating the website?

    • Anonymous says:

      The ship captains don’t really care what your millennial app promises. Many ships are deciding on the fly what they are going to do, based on ever-changing directives from their respective head offices. Recently, some have skipped ports to loiter at sea, some have gone back to home ports, many are confronted with wholesale cancellations for next week, and for some liners, the balance of the winter cruise season is in jeopardy. Port Authority have an indicative schedule that doesn’t firm up until the Captain sends their paperwork 24-48hrs before arrival.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not my point. My issue is that the information we receive from Govt. is inaccurate, misleading, and detrimental to both small businesses and tourists alike. If cruise tourism is as important as our government wants us to believe, why not put a few dollars into their platform for advising all ‘stakeholders’ accurately.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Not one positive comment. What a bunch of miserable people. Spouting all sorts of made up stuff as if its the truth. Moses said this , Moses did this blah blah blah. At least offer some sort of proof … a video or a voice recording , a text message or something. If your opinion then say so. But please don’t say things like ” Moses agreed to such and such” then offer no proof.( this is addressed to commenters and not CNS)

    • Anonymous says:

      I understand that they had crew on board that may have travelled from Italy recently. Cayman would not have allowed them to stop so they are being proactive. You will see ships here next week. These made up stories does no one any good. Why dont you ask rather than surmising?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh If life, business, relationships were so simple as many of the simple comments on here…..

    • Who you mama is? says:

      Carnival showing its true colours. We must partner with them to spend $300 million and give ip our revenue. At least if they don’t come we would not have spent 200 million.

    • Anon says:

      5.16pm You can say the same about all the criticism of expatriates by locals on Radio Cayman.

  6. Anonymous says:

    See ya Carnival! It was NOT nice knowing ya!

  7. Anonymous says:

    In case it wasn’t absolutely and abundantly clear to everyone on these islands

    Cruise ships companies don’t care about our well being
    Cruise ship companies don’t care about the messes they leave behind

    We are one stop on an itinerary and as they have shown they would switch us out at the drop of a hat if it was better for their bottom lines

    They are not our friends, or allies, they are not looking out for our best interests

    They care about one thing at the end of the day their profit margins

  8. Anonymous says:

    Lets be real.

    Cruise ships are diverting because no1 is buying cruise tickets anymore.

    Cruise companies are trying to hit two birds with one stone

    – make the Caribbean bow down to their will by making it seem that turning them away will result in no ships docking at intended destinations

    – spin doctor the real issue which is that no1 wants to travel on a giant size petri dish with coronavirus all over the place.

    Watch the Coronavirus episode of last week tonight with Jamie Oliver and see what I’m talking about. Specifically the Japanese cruise ship which had to have it’s own line item on the WHO statistics as the virus spread and confirmed deaths were insane.

    Yeah no thanks. One more reason we dont need a port.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Good, gtfo Carnival you cheap, disgusting cruise line.

  10. Anonymous says:

    As I posted on the MSC Meraviglia story last week –

    ‘I’m just wondering how this might work out if we had a cruise dock with RCCL and Carnival as the major investors. Would they make decision or would CIG? Let’s hope we never have to find out because I suspect the ones holding the purse strings would take the lead on this.’

    Guess we just found out?

  11. Anonymous says:

    This should be good news for CPR. Forget Cruise Tourism. Only need stayover

  12. Anonymous says:

    IT’S A CARNIVAL day for Cayman. We should have a block party in front of the Gov’t Building today. The truth of the matter is that this cruiseline has opened the Pandora’s Box about the berthing facility – CIG WE DO NOT WANT NOR NEED IT!!!!

    Let’s move forward NOW and find ways to IMPROVE our tourism products for our stayover tourists. THAT IS WHERE THE BIG BUCKS come from NOT the 6 hour cruise passengers.

  13. Anonymous says:

    COVID-19 is a convenient excuse, but Carnival must be watching our news and must be disappointed about the outcome they were promised, in regards to the Unity Regime’s failure to ram-rod through an illegal Referendum Law to build them a port. This is a Sopranos spat between Carnival and Moses.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Clearly Carnival is sending a message by throwing their weight around. Lets remember they have as much to loose as we do. What are they going to do with all the ships that don’t call in the Western Caribbean any more? There are not enough other destinations to divert them all, and they wont be able to sell the cruises without Cayman on the itinerary. Don’t forget they also own Princess, Holland America and others. It may hurt a bit, but it is time to stand up to them or there will be no end to it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The real problem now is that RCCL & Carnival probably have more leverage over Aldart & Mo$e$ than if the port was built by way of obligation in making amends for failing to pull off a plan they probably guaranteed. This is the inevitable compromise when politicians fast track an agenda for corporate favour rather than serving the greater interests voiced by the people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or in brief terms – ‘Money talks.’ What’s interesting is this whole episode seems to be undermining all the assurances we’ve been given that control of the cruise dock would remain with the Port Authority. It now seems quite clear that isn’t the case and that should worry more than a few people.

  16. Government Worker says:

    Listen. This all stem from an incident last month. They are claiming that Jamaica and Grand Cayman authorities had turned their ship away after a crew member tested positive for the flu. In their words against the Cayman Islands border control, they purport we turned them away, “without even reviewing the ship’s medical records.” They further complained, “in both instances, the ship was effectively turned away simply based of fears.”

    I guess they loss money from the 6000 passengers seeking refunds. But what are we suppose to do ???? 🤷🏾‍♂️ The last thing we want is for this Corona virus to come here in Cayman. I think that is a JUSTIFIED “fear.” Don’t you think?

    • Anonymous says:

      The crew member was voluntarily quarantined after testing negative for COVID-19. That means ZERO RISK of COVID-19.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tell that to the people who tested negative and subsequently became symptomatic – like the cruise passengers who disembarked in Cambodia, or the Australians who tested negative before they got in their evacuation flight to Oz and positive on arrival. And which part of the article says the guy was quarantined after he tested negative or that he tested negative before arrival in Jamaica? Hell it seems they didn’t even tell Jamaica that they had someone in quarantine until they got there.

    • Anonymous1 says:

      Yea but you are in a relationship with the cruise lines. You are suppose to believe in them, maintain that relationship. No excuse.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I bet the explanation is somewhere along the lines of, take your floating petri dish of pathogens and garbage elsewhere.

  18. Holding Cayman over a barrel. says:

    Late last year I sat upstairs at George Town Yacht Club, at what was advertised on Radio Cayman as an opportunity for the public to come out and hear the unbiased facts about the proposed cruise port directly from government officials, environmental “experts”, Verdant Isle reps and representatives from the cruise lines. When I arrived, PPM banners were on display and PPM MLAs were there and it appeared to me (though I can’t say for certain) that most in attendance were PPM supporters. I didn’t think that I would be arriving at a political rally, but nevertheless I wanted to hear the government’s side of the port argument, since they had not presented the public with any useful information to that date. So I decided to stay and hear them out. The cruise line reps, the Premier and the Verdant Isle rep all came to the podium and told those in attendance about the “close partnership” between the Cayman Islands’ government and cruise lines, and how the Cayman Islands were an integral part of the cruise line’s business. People in attendance were permitted to put questions to the panel (though our questions had to be handed in in writing and then pulled from a basket by Minister Connolly) and a lot of the questions were along the lines of “If we build the port and take on the massive debt to the Verdant and the cruise lines who would be financing the project, what if the cruise lines decide to reduce their number of visits, or simply stop coming to Cayman?”. We were given assurance up and down by both the cruise lines and Verdant Isle that Cayman was too important a destination and too much in demand by its customers for the cruise lines to simply decide not to come to Cayman, as and when they pleased. They gave us the impression that stopping in Cayman was market-driven, not cruise line-driven.

    This week, Carnival decided not to stop in Cayman. This decision was not weather related. So if Carnival is guided by market demand, and Cayman was on the itinerary of those ships that did not stop, wasn’t the decision to bypass Cayman a decision made solely by Carnival? Clearly, the cruise lines can indeed decide not to stop in Cayman as and when they please, and thus the potential exists for the cruise lines to use this as leverage to dictate Cayman’s entire cruise industry.

    • Anonymous says:

      Only in the short term. Once Cayman is not on the itinerary to begin with they won’t be able to sell the Western Caribbean to their customers who will demand Cayman as a stop.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This just highlighted the the bigger problem in the desire to build a bigger Port. Effectively the Cruise lines will call the shots, not the CIG.

    • Scotland Yard says:

      They have been calling the shots for a long time. They control the port, dispatching, tent setup at RW Terminal organized and operated by Carnival. Port Authority carrying our Carnival Rules.

  20. Anonymous says:

    clear as mud moses…..thanks.

  21. Anonymous says:

    yep…from the same cig fools that let an italian cruise ship disembark after being turned away from other other caribbean destinations….

  22. Anonymous says:

    cns: the bigger story is apparently cig says we have no suspected cases…but 4 people are in isolation or are being monitored!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      We have no cases because we have no testing kits…

      • Kate says:

        Precisely 10:05. We do not have a clue , as to whether we have cases of COVID-19 on Island. Everyone need to be extremely careful and protect yourself.

  23. Anon says:

    No big loss as they carry the lowest onshore spenders.

    • Anonymous says:


      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah – Caymankind extends to endangering the health of everyone on the island and destroying our stay over tourism – and all for less than $100 per head local spend. Not a kindness issue – sound commercial sense and the public interest.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Cayman and Jamaica needs to teach them a lesson, we are the 2 most popular countries in the Caribbean in this vicinity and we should put a ban on all carnival ships for 6 months. how can we sit and let a company bully a entire country! we cant be that weak and slave minded in 2020.

    • Anonymous says:

      Weaker than that my friend! So weak they could not come an appropriately statement concerning the Speaker beating up on a defenseless woman at his bar. No scruples, no grit, no character. Pathetic is what they are.

    • Anonymous says:

      It ain’t being weak or slave minded. It’s GREED!

  25. Anonymous says:

    hahahahahaa go head and build a port and mash up our beautiful waters for these companies that don’t give a damn about anything but their profit

  26. Anonymous says:

    ….and here my friends are our supposed partners. Carnival are the worst – although it’s not just this brand they own. The scum on board frequently leave their crap all over the beach and show no respect to the islands that they visit. Good riddance. Lets get rid of them all and re-focus Cayman’s tourist offering. Certain large families are like crack whores on the street that need to get away from their dealer (Carnival) to kick the addiction once and for all.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmmm…scum is harsh. But they do leave their crap behind them on public beach and Governor’s as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      You definitely should not call all cruise passengers scum. That is certainly not fair to those of us who have not done the things that you have stated in your post. We always respect the people and the islands that we go to. We have been to your island twice on cruises and enjoyed our time there thoroughly. Most of the money we save to take with us, is actually spent in the ports we go to. Reading the negative comments on here about cruisers is very disheartening. We work hard for our money and save for vacation and cruising is an economical way for us to go on vacation and see your beautiful islands. That does not make us scum. We have never trashed any island we have been to and have always been respectful to the people on them. We are always thankful and grateful for the kindness we are shown on the islands. I will say that cruising is definitely a good way to determine which islands we would like to go to for an extended stay. Not all cruisers are the same.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Without the beautiful islands in the Caribbean these cruise lines have nothing. I hope they remember that. Time to form a Caribbean alliance to demand more from Carnival and co.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Moses K will do whatever the cruise lines want and be supported by Cabinet because money is more imports at than what is best for the country and wellbeing.

    This Govt represents the best interests of Royal and Carnival Cruise lines e.g. the port project and lack of transparency on all matters is evidence.

  29. Anonymous says:

    We have no problem with them not coming. We should not compromise the health of our residents for a few bucks. Let us err on the side of caution. We are a very small population in a small space and the possibility of the rapid spread of infection is that much greater. Carnival guests enjoy your other destinations.

  30. Anonymous says:

    MSC reports that Cayman Islands and Jamaica were aware that voluntarily quarantined crew member had tested negative to COVID-19 and refused them anyway. We will get sued. That bad policy, from Moses desk, spread like wildfire to all liners. My parents were on board a Regent ship with a full Eastern Caribbean itinerary, and they consequently diverted to Miami, canceled the cruise, and the rest of this season’s operations in the Caribbean. Way to go Unity team. This is the hazard of trusting rank amateurs without any common sense. Vote no. Get them all out.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Can we please continue to be without them?

    They have the lowest socio-economic group on board of any cruise line regularly calling on. Cayman. They clutter up our infrastructure for less return than more upscale cruise lines, and appear to be intentionally acting with some bingo tics was against us because we made a difficult call to seek to protect the people of the Cayman Islands.

    Let us stand up to them and be the mouse that roared! I can imagine no more positive headline for our stay over tourism product than “Cayman Stops Carnival to Provide a Better Environment for the Population and High End Tourism Product.”

  32. Anonymous says:

    It’s time that all of the Caribbean nations band together to take the power back from these greedy/bullying cruise lines. We need to protect our product, our hard working vendors and ourselves.

  33. Anonymous says:

    another nonsense cig update that leaves more questions than answers….

  34. Anonymous says:

    I think reason being is that Jamaica and Cayman refused entry to the MSC ship. There was no good reason because the virus was not confirmed. Are they refusing entry to airlines landing on these islands? Same should apply if that’s the case.

    • Anonymous says:

      this is a tough one to officiate but I respect the stance taken by the Jamaican Minister of Health, – this is our policy and we’re sticking to it. Any short term gains will be massively outweighed by the costs associated (HSA just to begin with) in dealing with the virus if not controlled and best measures possible not put in place. Who’s going to assume these costs when it does arrive ? – I guarantee it won’t be the cruise or airlines stepping up to the plate.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well said 11:05am

      • Anonymous says:

        It didn’t seem to matter to any of the “professional gatekeepers” that there was a negative test result for COVID-19. Pretty easy to officiate that part. It was 100% racist/stigma-driven because worker was “Asian”!

    • Anonymous says:

      Our island, our rules. The one thing airlines and cruise lines cannot reasonably complain about is a sovereign jurisdiction enforcing quarantine and health risk exclusion rules. If they start that there’s a two-word (you all know the one I mean) response.

      • Anonymous says:

        Or a corrupt Caribbean territory that likes to pretend it wields sovereign authority.

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