Cruise ships struggle to keep COVID out

| 08/11/2021 | 61 Comments
Royal Watler Cruise Terminal

(CNS): The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended its order controlling COVID-19 protocols on cruise ships until January next year. In the order, which was issued last month, the CDC said that while protocols to manage COVID-19 have prevented onboard medical clinics and hospitals in ports from being overwhelmed, the spread of the Delta variant and the level of breakthrough cases among vaccinated passengers has justified extended the limits.

Figures released with the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order revealed there were 1,359 reported cases of SARS-CoV-2 on ships sailing from US ports this summer among some 600,000 passengers with a more than 97% vaccination rate.

Cayman was due to reopen its borders completely sometime in the New Year. This was to have included the return of cruise ships, but given the changes to the Border Reopening Plan caused by the return of community transmission here, this is now in question.

The re-introduction of cruise tourism was initially pegged to Phase 5 of the border reopening plan, earmarked for January. However, now that Phase 4 has been postponed until 20 November, the new dates for Phases 5 and 6 have yet to be determined.

“During the final phase assessment continues of COVID-19 in the local and international contexts to determine when and how to proceed with further relaxation of restrictions, including for cruise tourism,” the government has stated on its border reopening webpage. The official position as of last month was that cruise ships remained banned until 31 December.

The problem for the cruise industry in the containing of the virus was supported by the various statistics released by the CDC. For example, the agency said that on one particular ship, over the course of two and a half weeks, between 21 August and 7 September, on four back-to-back cruises, there were 112 confirmed COVID-19 cases among passengers and crew, even though every single passenger and crew member was vaccinated.

“Despite the implementation of strict protocols by cruise ship operators to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 from passengers, ensuring passengers are uninfected at embarkation has proven difficult,” the CDC said in the information supporting the continued control of ships. “There have been several instances of passengers being symptomatic on the day of embarkation and denying symptoms to the cruise line, or passengers being symptomatic for several days on board the ship before reporting their symptoms to the medical center.”

But it is not just the virus putting pressure on the cruise sector. During the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) currently underway in Scotland, activists have highlighted the significant environmental threats posed by this sector and are pressing delegates to make the entire industry comply with standards to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, as ship emissions are included in the Paris Agreement.

“The shipping industry is seriously lagging in efforts to decarbonize,” the Global Cruise Activist Network said. “Cruise ships, in particular, are super-emitters of greenhouse gases. The cruise industry’s carbon footprint will only increase if it is allowed to continue operating as it has in the past. It’s time to abandon ‘cruising as usual’.”

The activists said cruise ships are “super-emitters of greenhouse gases and black carbon” because they burn the cheapest and most carbon-intensive fuels. “These ships are more carbon-intensive than cargo ships of similar size because they burn fuel constantly, even when in port, to power infrastructure for, typically, 3,000 and up to as many as 10,000 passengers and crew.”

Meanwhile, what Cayman’s future cruise policy will look like remains in question. This government has stated it has no plans for a cruise berthing facility but it has not spelled out if there are to be any policy changes concerning the size of ships and frequency of visits that will be allowed once they return.

Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan has spoken about trying to make Cayman a first port of call as a way of easing the return of cruising but has not said anything about any broader changes to the sector or limiting future visits by cruise ships.

Many people in tourism believe that the cruise sector conflicts with the overnight tourism and has a heavy impact on infrastructure and the environment for much less economic benefit to those working in tourism. There is growing support for a ‘less is more’ approach to reduce the number of ships allowed to call as well as the size and type of vessels we invite into port in future.

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (61)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Cayman should not have to struggle to keep cruise ships out for good.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Cayman must cut carbon emissions” says premier Panton after recent climate conference.
    Surely we can make a start by banning these monstrosities all together.

  3. Anonymous says:

    No cruise ships = No trolley roger. I’m good with that!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Referendum is a good idea. Wish I got to vote yes in the CPR Referendum, but PPM played games with us. I’m certainly going to vote yes for that Cayman Cannabis Referendum when triggered.

  5. Anonymous says:

    ha…with the rate of community spread here…the cruise shipper might not want to get off for their own safety….
    karma for the cruise snobs.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m a frequent stayover tourist. I’m guessing that the boat owners who take the cruisers out to Stingray City are in favor of bringing cruise ships back. We always went out once a trip with the same captain, but almost every single other person besides us were cruise passengers.
    I myself am happy if the cruise ships never come back, but I don’t have a say!

    • Anonymous says:

      I would also be happy without cruise passengers. During the 2/3 years before the pandemic I saw places like Rum Point being wrecked by them. They seemed to think their excursion packages involved someone picking up their empty cans and plastic cups after they had left! I bring my own rubbish bags when I come on holiday and do at least one beach clean up.

  7. Anonymous says:

    We don’t need no stinkin’ cruise ships

  8. Anonymous says:

    Cruise ships will be here before end of the year.
    Government gave us willingly the virus back, in order to accommodate business.
    Remember previous government stated they will do anything to prevent the virus from coming back. The first statement if this new government was that we have to learn to live with it. That is the exact opposite.
    And by reducing quarantine time to 5 days and then blaming isolation breaches, they brought the virus back.
    Only to accommodate a few business owners.
    A complete disgrace.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Keep the cruises banned. The people in Cayman that offer them rip off prices and services are the ones that don’t require vaccination by law. We need them staying home.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Or, and hear me out, hopefully they never return.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What an insane world we live in. Mr. Panton, alleged champion of the environment, flies to Glasgow to discuss the global issue of climate change, which is something we can basically do nothing material about.

    On the other hand we can do a number of things to improve the environment, our health and quality of life in our own backyard such as:

    1. Ban cruise ships. They pollute the sea, cause damage to reefs, bring thousands of unnecessary, unprofitable visitors to these shores who then litter all over the place, cause traffic jams and generally get in the way

    2. Spend more money expanding recycling programs.

    3. Accelerate the fixing of the dump and actually monitor the air and water pollution that it gives off.

    4. Ban more single-use plastics.

    5. create a workable public transit system with actual buses which run on a schedule so that more people can rely on them.

    6. include an emissions check for older vehicles at DVDL when renewing licenses and take the polluting ones off the road. People who can’t afford clean cars without broken catalytic converters can take the transit system described above.

    7. Put in place real incentives (not the crappy limited ones we have now) for people to install solar panels to decrease our reliance on burning fossil fuels.

    There you go – instead of useless rhetoric, here are real, achievable, meaningful, relatively uncomplicated projects that the government can work on that will improve local peoples’ lives and have a positive effect on the environment that you claim to care so much about.

    So gross that every politician here is so ineffective and lame. Have some courage and take some goddamn initiative. All these guys do is repeat the same mistakes of their predecessors over and over and over.

    • Anonymous says:

      That was on point. Well articulated.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes 5.07, but all those things are bad for Kenny’s re-election campaign .

    • Anonymous says:

      What’s more gross is they get paid handsomely to fail miserably.

    • Anonymous says:

      17:07. Is the problem with the ship or the people it brings? As a ship the sewage is often cleaner than the shoreside effluent produced. Even an old ship produces treated water with no floating particles, looks clear, doesnt smell and produces chemical analysis results well below average US standards. If you didnt know what it was, you would drink it.

      I’ll agree with the rest of your comments though.

      • Anonymous says:

        @6:01 – did you literally just pull that 100% piece of BS outta your ass? Either you’re that stupid or a troll. And we have too many of those already. Sorry, but we’re not accepting applications for any more.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The jesters court has the luxury of a surplus of participants at the moment, – any thoughts esteemed ones as to where the previous thousands are going to go to now in an alternative to the once previous world renowned SMB ? I’m guessing it won’t possibly be Barkers anymore Mr Premier, now that your ignited and ready to continue the momentum of Cop26 👍

  13. Anonymous says:

    after the 20th…assuming the passengers have followed the same protocols…..there should be no difference for atourist stepping off a plane or a boat?

    • Anonymous says:

      Very Logical.

      • Anonymous says:

        Italicized… rolled eye emoji following

      • Anonymous says:

        08 @2:56pm and 3:19pm – that proves it’s about the $$$! Cruise ship visitors don’t spend in restaurants or hotels!

        • Anonymous says:

          Exactly, and this is a valid point, not to be discarded.
          Consider the impact of someone visiting and using our infrastructure and consuming our resources.
          If you could get someone who spent more in our local economy why wouldn’t you want that?
          Why would you want a low spending person who slows down traffic and impacts your quality of life. I think the economic impact is a very important point.
          We should want to get more value (and less negative impact) from each dollar spent by our visitors.

    • Anonymous says:

      As individuals, at the instant they step off the plane/floating petri dish, almost true. However, an air passenger that has a negative PCR 24-72 hours before stepping off the plane is not the same risk as a cruise passenger who steps off the ship having had a PCR test a week before – when he/she boarded the ship, during which week the cruise passenger mixed with 1000-5000 people some of whom inevitably have Covid.

    • Anonymous says:

      Except for the fact that those who vote here hate cruise ships because they are useless to them but planes are necessary. If they gave free cruises to Caymanian Civil service they would be back already.

    • Anonymous says:


  14. Anonymous says:

    Surely if we are to contribute to reduction of carbon, banning these behemoths should be part of the plan. Oh but they will just go somewhere else people will say, but at least we would be making an effort.

    • Anonymous says:

      No worse than a 54’ Hatteras

    • Anonymous says:

      Economically, the best option, with respect to cruise ships, is to target the more luxurious cruises with higher net-worth tourists.

      That way the statistical likelihood for economic benefits for Cayman businesses is better leveraged versus the mass quantity of tourists (who are on a budget) with less disposable income.

      If this method is utilized (targeting luxury cruises with high net-worth tourists), however, it will likely mean that CIG makes less revenue, because they would get less fees per head if less quantity of tourists from cruise ships.

      Now that COVID brought tourism (particularly cruise tourism) to a grinding halt, Cayman now has the opportunity to recalibrate CIG’s tourism policy.

      If there were ever a time to make reasonable improvements in strategic policy, the time is now. Let’s see what the PACT does with this opportunity.

      This also makes clear that Cayman needs to have other pillars of economic stability. We cannot keep relying on tourism, banking and financial services.

      Law firms and accounting firms provide significant revenue, but they are getting regulated to death.

      If there is too much regulatory red tape and associated expenses, that takes away a competitive edge and deters business innovation and expansion.

      Also, if regulation is not carried out correctly, then that hurts the banks, financial services providers, accounts and lawyers.

      Let’s hope the European Parliament and international community are not successful in try to shut down Cayman’s economy with the intent of bringing business back onshore to their own counties.

      Looks like CIG has its work cut out for them. It’s going to be interesting what the PACT does. It could very well have lasting consequences for us all.

  15. Anonymous says:

    “Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan has spoken about trying to get Cayman to be a first port of call as a way of easing the return of cruising but has not said anything about any broader changes to the sector or limiting future calls.” What???
    When/where did he say this??
    The majority of the island doesn’t want them here full stop. He’ll be losing even more of his ‘fan’ base now..

  16. Anonymous says:

    Wow. Even cruise ships are safer than us. 1,359 out of 600,000 people. We have 1,600 out of 71,000. Obviously it has to be adjusted for time and vaccination rate, but the answer is clear.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yep. My thoughts as well.

      • Anonymous says:

        97% of 600,000 leaves 18,000 unvaccinated onboard and if only 1359 end up with covid thats a pretty good success rate.
        Crunching the numbers more, using 14:27’s figures, 2.25% of those on island have/had COVID ((1600/71000) X 100 ), 0.22% of cruise passengers have/had it ((1359/600000)X100).
        Based on these numbers alone, and a like for like comparison which probably may not be fair, something is wrong on island or going well onboard.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Well. It seems that the PACT has some policy issues with respect to tourism balanced against safety ironed out.

    Tourism, as a major pillar of Cayman’s economy, is a primary source of income domestically (both for businesses and employees) and needs to be manured strategically.

    We need profit-earning opportunities to return to those in the tourism industry, who have had the ability to earn a living a support their families curtailed by the COVID pandemic.

    One the other hand, it’s imperative that, whilst profits are important, that all people (whether Caymanian or residents as well as tourists) are safe.

    • Anonymous says:

      It has been said time and time again that tourism is NOT a major pillar, especially cruise ships.

    • satirony says:

      So many are against the return of the cruise ships as they are seen to reduce our quality of life. Well, in that case, let’s close the quarries and get the marl trucks off the road. Let’s ban these incredibly loud and annoying leaf-blowers. Let’s ban the use of heavy equipment at weekends,such as hydraulic rock hammers. ‘But we can’t’ you say, because of the jobs they support. Well, what about the devastating economic effect the halting of the cruise ships has had on people’s lives and businesses, many built up over generations? Banning things is usually a bad idea, when managing them serves a whole lot better.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cruise ships aren’t tourism. They’re day trippers. Major infrastructure burden compared to stayover tourists.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth: How did you propose allowing cruise visitors to enter Cayman & comply with pre-testing on arrival , or was that going to be abolished along with pre-testing for air arrivals too?
    I’m just trying to envision the scene in G.T. Harbour. The verification of all cruise passengers landing from a tender, of their vaccination status & their 72 hour pre-test status.
    Was the cruise ship going to pre-test everybody on board 72 hours from arriving in Cayman ?
    I am certain you navigated all this thru the necessary channels , no pun intended .

  19. Anonymous says:

    Please don’t let them back here, no one benefits from these rat infested boats coming to our shores. #newlyweds #overfeds #nearlydeads

  20. Anonymous says:

    If ever there was a time to ban 90% of these ships from Cayman waters it’s now! They generate too little revenue for the damage they do to our environment and quality of life.

  21. Anonymous says:

    So sad, really. I really miss town being rammed with tourists walking all over the roads, pirate tour operators robbing them blind. The lovley emmissions comming from the cruise shits, oops i mean ships.

    I am just so… sad.

  22. Anonymous says:

    We must reach the conclusion that cruise ships should NOT return to Cayman– EVER. Ships are a petri dish for the spread of SARS CoV2 and allowing GT to flood with thousands of potentially infected people would be madness foolishness. Let’s not forget how a single sick Italian man taken from a ship closed down HCCI for a few weeks at the beginning of our pandemic– although HCCI staff collecting an ITALIAN patient from a CRUISE SHIP without FULL PPE was a faux pas of the most negligent kind — how many red flags does a medical facility need! And, it’s also the case that CS passengers spend very little when they arrive for a single day in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Come on now, they buy at least 3 bottles of water each and as a bonus they leave the plastic bottle behind for us!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Do not let them back! Shift our business model upmarket!

    • Anonymous says:

      I was with you until you swerved to ‘upmarket’ 1:18 – discriminating against a demographic with $ motivation is just wrong. The ‘upmarket’ it is easily argued with private jets are equally if not more culpable with their contribution to climate change

      • Anonymous says:

        The point, if it weren’t blindingly obvious, is that if you’re going to have tourism at least have tourists that can afford to use local businesses and be a net benefit to the island.

  24. Anonymous says:

    This should be put to a referendum-ask the people if we want them back.

    For so many people, for so many reasons, the answer is ‘No’.

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