First cruise ship to dock in George Town next month

| 24/11/2021 | 242 Comments
Nieuw Statendam (photo courtesy of Holland America)

(CNS) UPDATED: Holland America is scheduled be the first cruise line to call on Grand Cayman since the borders were closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Tourism has now confirmed that the Nieuw Statendam will be arriving on Tuesday, 28 December, and not on 30 December as stated on the cruise company’s website.

In a press release Wednesday, tourism officials said Cayman will be the first port of call and not the third, as previously billed by the cruise line, as this is one of the conditions for allowing the cruise ship to come here. The ministry said Cabinet had approved the visit of this ship despite the prohibition on all cruise ships coming into the country, which it had extended until New Year’s Eve in October.

The public has been led to believe that cruise tourism would not be a part of Phase 4 of the border reopening plan and that it was likely that no ships would be calling here until well into 2022, given the huge risk posed by cruising in the face of a pandemic that shows no sign of letting up.

Nevertheless, Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan said this cruise ship call will present an opportunity to find the safest way to welcome back cruise visitors and navigate the challenges of the pandemic.

“Grand Cayman will be the first port of call for the Holland America Nieuw Statendam, and the capacity will be limited to 1,600 passengers. Guests and crew aboard the ship will be subjected to exactly the same requirements as stay-over visitors, such as a pre-arrival testing,” Bryan said.

“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. We thank Holland America for being an excellent partner and leading the way for this new era of cruise travel in the Cayman Islands for the foreseeable future. My people can be assured that my approach and negotiation strategy is for quality first,” Bryan added.

Holland America has agreed to the following conditions: Grand Cayman must be the first port of call; passenger capacity is limited to a maximum of 1,600 representing 60% capacity of the vessel; all guests and crew must have had the final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before the beginning of the cruise; all guests must have a negative viral COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken within two days of their embarkation; all guests and crew going ashore must observe local requirements for wearing the require PPE such as facial masks and six feet physical distancing; and no unwell guests or crew will be allowed ashore.

However, even reduced passenger, fully vaccinated voyages, where everyone began the trip with a negative tests continue to experience outbreaks of the virus on board. Regardless of the protocols implemented by the cruise lines, this mode of leisure travel remains the most risky when it comes to spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

This decision to clear the ship for arrival was made before any consultation has taken place among stakeholders or with the wider public, even though many are turning against mass cruise tourism for a variety of reasons.

Many of those working in tourism who serviced the cruise sector in the past want to see Cayman adopt a “less is more” approach to cruising in future, as well as a renegotiation of how trips are sold by the cruise lines and the percentage given to local operators, after years of seeing their cut driven to almost nothing.

In the release the minister said over a thousand tourism workers were being impacted by the continued closure of cruise tourism.

“The health and safety of our people and visitors to our shores continues to be a priority in our phased reopening plan,” he said. “Currently, over 1,000 Caymanians are displaced due to the closure of our cruise ports, and as we safely reopen our borders, the cruise sector will be a key part of the tourism industry’s recovery.”

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (242)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    whats all this about ? coral growing a little too wild at the anchorage ? sea a little too clean ? smog disappearing from the horizon ? What was that footprint you wanted us to reduce to set an example for the world after attending cop26 Mr Premier ?

    PS, – PACT is really starting to suck, —– badly ☠️

  2. Anonymous says:

    A new Covid variant called the B.1.1.529 variant was announced today. This new variant appears best designed to escape the current vaccines.

    We should petition the WHO to name the newest variant the PACT variant in honour of their efforts not to contain the virus and to make Cayman an easy target for new variants.

    “Scientists have said a new Covid variant that carries an “extremely high number” of mutations may drive further waves of disease by evading the body’s defences…

    The B.1.1.529 variant has 32 mutations in the spike protein, the part of the virus that most vaccines use to prime the immune system against Covid. Mutations in the spike protein can affect the virus’s ability to infect cells and spread, but also make it harder for immune cells to attack the pathogen.”

    • Anonymous says:

      nothing to do with pact…more to do with the anti-vax idiots who allow the virus a breeding ground to develop mutations

    • Anonymous says:

      You can thank the unvaccinated for letting it mutate.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So how does Premier Panton reconcile his environmental stance with bringing back cruise ships? Remember you were just at the Glasgow environmental love fest!

    Probably the same way he justifies making McKeewa “the woman beater” Speaker of the House while pretending to support women. What a joker.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It was announced tonight that the Coronavirus family is going to be giving PACT a medal for providing the greatest assistance in assisting virus spread within a community.

    • Truth says:

      Blame it on PACT. That’s what they are there for. Blaming it on Caymanians themselves is culturally intolerant and not to be accepted.

      • Anonymous says:

        Only Caymanians votes so blaming PACT is blaming Caymanians.

        People get the gov’t they deserve. In this case they are getting it good and hard.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I used to have high hopes for this government. They have now broken all trust by straight up lying. They now have no moral basis for governing. CaymanKind.

  6. Anonymous says:

    In Phase 6 government will be hiring a fleet of med-evac planes to ferry hospitalized Covid patients to Cayman from around the world in order to build the medical tourism sector (and the funeral sector).

  7. Anonymous says:

    F’ing ridiculous.
    It was good while it lasted folks. We had a golden opportunity to rework our product and move away from mass cruise tourism but PACT seems keep on throwing that away.
    They also missed a great opportunity on the census to ask some serious questions to get a feel for what the people want. I guess they didn’t want to know the answer to important questions regarding where our island is headed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Any kind of public information of that type would have made it more difficult for those inclined towards dishonesty to secure private gains.

    • EE says:

      Why would they when Minister of Tourism talks and acts like a dictator already – why was he involved in the ‘draw’ which had nothing to do with tourism or transportation – now he thinks we are all ‘my people’ – talk about power gone to head.

      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly, he must be forgetting the other part of his ministry that needs to be addressed, TRAFFIC! Would’ve thought that was sorted before they allowed the mass pedestrian traffic from ships again in GT. He must’ve thought it was solved from keeping most locals with school aged children on the revolving door of isolated.

      • Anonymous says:

        He is absolutely self centered and that is the worst trait. Especially considering he is meant to be a PUBLIC servant.

  8. Anonymous says:

    ‘My people can be assured that my approach and negotiation strategy is for quality first, Bryan added’.
    Not your people – and are not assured – sounding more like a dictator every mouthful.

  9. Anonymous says:

    On the same day that the overseas media a reporting the emergence of a new highly mutated strain that may be capable of escaping the current spike protein based vaccines PACT announces a plan to give that variant free access to the Cayman Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      Note that the Hong Kong traveller would have been able to unwittingly spread the variant but for the HK quarantine, as he had tested negative throughout until 2 days after return.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Just think, if government had kept the levels of Covid zero or low it would have been much harder to bring back these floating petri dishes as the disease that will arrive would have been obvious. By letting Covid spread with no effort to control the virus the resulting illness and death PACT made their intended decision less objectionable. Who says that PACT are idiots.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Instead of focusing on this, we should be petitioning our Governor to get the UK to allow boosters for everyone and not just those over 40. We have kids coming home from university that should be able to get their boosters before leaving in January. We have the vaccines here and we should use them.

    We should also be able to get the vaccine for our 5- 11 year olds. The USA is already doing this. This would give a lot of us parents a bit of relief in knowing that our kids will have some level of protection.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The cruise industry is critical to the parts of the crime industry here. High end stolen property is shipped out and certain types of drugs and other contraband are imported. Perhaps that explains the government’s decision?

    • Anonymous says:

      It must be something like that as there is nothing that benefits the people of Cayman in this decision.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Cruise ships are floating petri dishes of disease. This goes to show there is no dollar amount too small for the government to chase. What is the economic impact of a single ship versus the risk to the community?

    • Truth says:

      Right now the Caymanian community is a large land based petri dish of disease. Bigger and more powerful than any cruise ship ever was. This goes to show that Caymanians are not interested in any “cure” or efforts that has them making any sacrifice in freedom or economy.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Why do you care? Who give a crap?

    • Anonymous says:

      Will they be having supervised testing when landing? What is the difference between the cruise passenger and the plane passenger? Both will be landing vaccinated with negative PCR. Doesn’t make much sense to do all that testing to those who are staying on island, does it? Especially when the covid cases are proving it is not tourists that where the cases are coming from.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The Premier of the Cayman Islands as well as Dr.Lee have recently returned from the overseas trip. They had an opportunity to see for themselves what life is like everywhere else besides Cayman. And the life is normal. People don’t even talk about covid among themselves anymore.

    Cayman leaders are making decisions based on personal observations and I do support them. Plus 97% over 12 are vaccinated.

    A hundred or two, hard to tell since one person could be posting multiple comments, people are at the point of mental breakdown for pathological fear of covid. These people do need urgent help. The influx of visitors would help them to realise that the evil is not as frightening as it is being portrayed.

    • Anonymous says:

      What is there to be afraid of? 5 million dead so far and new variants that may escape current vaccines reported as recently as today. It seems that ‘Denial’ is more than a river in Africa.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Will it be welcomed with the same disdain as the gay cruise of a few years back?

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, a very small minority were upset about that ship. Now the majority are upset about this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well people here seem to think you can catch the Gay just like you can catch the Virus so I would say yes.

  17. anon says:

    I cant believe the comments on here !!!
    the risk is greater to the cruise ship guests then the other way round !!!
    its the numbskulls in the community here that are spreading it not the arriving passengers on airlines or cruise ships. have you read how many of those that have arrived recently been tested positive ? hardly any so wake up and smell the roses and stop being so bxxxxx selfish

    • Anonymous says:

      100% spot on. the cruise snobs don’t do facts.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not that we’re that frightened of covid, we just don’t want these vile, polluting monstrosities back on our tiny islands destroying the marine environment and littering the streets for the sake of contributing very little relative economic benefit to the local population. The level of corruption and vested interest in bringing mass cruise tourism back to cayman is a national scandal.

  18. Anonymous says:

    @CNS if the cruise ship passengers are able to disembark using lft why are we residents (and toursits) subjected to the PCR teat 72 hours prior to arriving on island?

    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree but could it be the case that the question to be asked is who is offering what to who?

    • Anonymous says:

      Also are those LFTs being supervised or are they just handed out to the passengers to self report. It’s a major inconvenience here for tourists and residents to get these done, even though it is more likely they’ll catch covid while they’re here than bring it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Also it’s the reason most tourists won’t choose to come here when they can go elsewhere without the hassle. I doubt there will be many people coming to stay that do not have ties to Cayman.

  19. Anonymous says:

    How can a government that openly lies to the people be trusted?

  20. Anonymous says:

    I assume that passengers will be required to undergo a LFT at a registered healthcare provider at hours 2, 5 and 10 of their visit?

    It would be just as rational as the 2, 5, 10 day policy and equally as effective (i.e. not at all).

  21. Anonymous says:

    Disgraceful that we continue to punish our own children with 14 day house arrests but open our arms to questionable strangers.

    • Anonymous says:

      These questionable strangers will be vaccinated with a negative PCR just like you will be when you fly to another country for holiday, shopping (Walmart) or partying.


      • Anonymous says:

        You actually believe that the passengers will be given PCR tests before every stop on the cruise?

        • Anonymous says:

          No, just cayman requiring the extra, expensive, time consuming measures. Most others would accept / verify the PCR documents at the beginning of the trip and that all were vaccinated.

    • Anonymous says:

      Didn’t know we had a “dock”??

  22. Anonymous says:

    Morons. Business as usual. Who cares about change, improving our product and clientele or the environment?

  23. Anonymous says:

    I ask again: is Kenneth Bryan banned from the US? And if so, why?

  24. Anon says:

    It would be interesting to know what contractual obligation, if any, Cayman has with the various cruise lines. This would be helpful information for managing expectations about the future of this tourism sector.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do the cruise ship passengers who land in Cayman need medical insurance? If not, then why do all the other tourists?

    • Anonymous says:

      We effectively used to pay for RCL and CCL guests via McKeeva’s deft negotiation with Port Authority, of cruise tender rebates. Those emails are now in the internet commons to search.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I don’t believe any claim that crew and passengers are fully vaccinated. This is what the website says about requirements in relation to guests who are not vaccinated:

    “Unvaccinated guests will be required to wear a face mask at all times while indoors, in accordance with health authority requirements.”

    Read it yourself:

  26. ppm Distress Signal says:

    Anything goes ya now buddie! Cheap Cheap too, some settling for just a photo Op! So long as they name out deh. Some so desperate for recognition that they are willing to put ourselves at risk no matter what the threat is.

  27. Anonymous says:

    we have those rules here now and the Hospitals are stating to fill up

    • Elvis says:

      Money makes the world go round the world go round. the world go round.
      As we start to bury the dead the smiling faces of strangers with more diseases will walk our streets with no care in the world for anyones health here.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tourists are not the issue. Community spread is. Community! Start following covid protocols.

  28. Merrygoround says:

    According to wiki; Holland America Line caters to affluent adults with midsize ships that carry between 1,432 and 2,668 guests. Each ship provides high-quality service with two or three crew members for every passenger. More expensive than competitors like Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

    Is this not who the people said could come or are you now saying you don’t want any cruise?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, thank goodness, affluent adults don’t carry covid. Phew!!

    • Chris Johnson says:

      This is a prestious cruise ship line that Cayman needs. They have been coming here for years. Their passengers spent a lot more than the cheap cruise ships.

      • Anonymous says:

        That has not been my experience. It would be very helpful if we could all see the average per passenger spend for each cruise ship that visits if you have access to that Chris.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry Chris, you don’t know what you’re talking about unless their marketing demographic have changed in the past two years. They’re a subsidiary of Carnival and whenever they were in port with any other ships it was a blessing the other ships were there, – a notorious low spending, low participation ship call.

  29. Corruption is endemic says:

    Sprung this one on us they did…

  30. Anonymous says:

    I love CMR ‘sources’. Her sources are civil servants who are illegally leaking government information to some stupid facebook page.

    She paying them for this? Are they reciving some award?

    • Anonymous says:

      Just her undying gratitude…

    • Anonymous says:

      e is more than enough fault to go around. Intelligent governments around the world have understood that they can slow transmission by putting in place vaccine mandates and 12 – 5AM curfews. That is what TCI has done with good effect.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you know or are you making it up?

    • Anonymous says:

      I suspect it’s more likely MPs than civil servants. Remember how hard she campaigned for them- even helping drum up that mob mentality near the end. I have no doubt that she’s calling in those favors from the likes of our Premier, Deputy Premier, and Minister of Tourism and Nose Candy.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Here is a very good academic study illustrating why allowing in Covid ships is a bad idea should anyone choose to read it. If someone has some extra time maybe they could read it out loud for the relevant folks in PACT.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Lots of other islands are getting attention for allowing in infected cruise ships. It is time that we got some of that attention.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Was there a ‘consulting fee’ in relation to this decision and if so who got it and how much?

  34. Anonymous says:

    There is so much disconnect and lack of leadership in the government. Surely the government realizes how ridiculous this is considering returning vaccinated Caymanians/Residents with kids are still subject to 2 weeks quarantine. Let’s let a floating germ incubator on island, but make sure those confirmed negative-PCR kids are kept locked up!

  35. Anonymous says:

    Funny how after CMR totally backed KB in the election they know things before government information services or anyone else.

  36. Anonymous says:


  37. Anonymous says:

    The cruise listing suggests that people have the option of disembarking and staying in Cayman – no mention of any Covid testing requirement but then again PACT is in control:

    “Should you wind up at Rum Point—Grand Cayman’s castaway beach imago—there’s a good chance your ship is, by your own design, sailing without you.”

  38. Anonymous says:

    So are all of these cruise passengers going to be given a supervised LFT? Or is that craziness just imposed on stay-over guests that actually contribute meaningfully to the economy?

  39. Anonymous says:

    Transparency, eh? PACT is a joke.

  40. Anon says:

    Cayman is currently the most infected country in the world. Additonal cases that arrive over the border be that sea or air are largely inconsequential at this point. We have 16 times the number of cases per head of population than the US!

    One in every ten or more here currently has Covid. You leave the house today you are likely going to interact with multiple people that have Covid.

    • Anonymous says:

      Last report said 1382 cases last Tuesday and only 1 ( ONE) was a tourist.

    • Anonymous says:

      So PACT refuses to do anything to stop Covid spread so our Covid levels are now the highest in the world and that justifies allowing Covid infected cruise tourists to arrive over the holidays – PACT logic

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks be to PACT!

  41. Anonymous says:

    Those cruise tourists will have a greater chance of catching covid on shore in Cayman than they will on that fully-vaccinated boat on an hour for hour basis.

    Sad, but true.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Most of those people on that ship are elderly folks,and that ship mostly pre booked so it should not be a problem.welcome back and I just wish some people would be happy for tourisim workers and stop been selfish.

  43. Cheese Face says:

    I weep for the future of this island.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Whats the difference letting them in Vs another tourist?
    The tourists are at much more risk of catching COVID from a local than we are of catching it from them at the moment.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Credit where credit is due – they consistently lie to the public. Remember Kenny’s lie? Remember being ‘ready’? Remember having a ‘plan’?

  46. Anonymous says:

    Just move to Phase 5.

    It’s time.

  47. Anonymous says:


  48. Anonymous says:

    We should have a referendum on whether or not we want cruise ship tourism back or not. Problem is the gov wants them back but I bet the majority of voters don’t.

    • Anonymous says:

      Start getting signatures then…

    • Anonymous says:

      Guess who bought out the retail stores from a local family not too long ago during the lockdown. Guess who has issued instructions to allow cruise ships back irrespective of the cost to the people or the environment. These idiotic government decisions are all designed to make money for the businesses that own PACT.

  49. Anonymous says:

    I wonder who got what for this? This stinks.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully people will actually read the article instead of the headline. All people arriving must be tested, fully vaccinated and adhere to strict on board protocols. Holland America will meet the criteria.

    • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

      NOWHERE in the article does it mention testing, or detail strict protocols, other than referring to CMR.

      I think it is time for an emergency People’s Initiated Referendum. The Covid-19 issue with cruise ships is bad enough, however the pulse of the people likely indicates a collective desire to refuse cruise ships and all the crap that comes with them. I would have thought than an government that touted its environmental awareness would not endorse cruise ships.

      Referendum, because the government can’t be bothered to consult the citizens of the Cayman Islands. SO disappointed.

      • Anonymous says:

        @1:52Pm..not sure if you and I are reading the same article but maybe CNS can confirm if what they wrote is from the Minister of from CMR as nowhere in this article do I see a mention of CNS referring to CMR..

        See below paragraph from this CNS article and it seems credit goes to the Minister not CMR.

        Holland America has agreed to the following conditions: Grand Cayman must be the first port of call; passenger capacity is limited to a maximum of 1,600 representing 60% capacity of the vessel; all guests and crew must have had the final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before the beginning of the cruise; all guests must have a negative viral COVID-19 test (PCR or antigen) taken within two days of their embarkation; all guests and crew going ashore must observe local requirements for wearing the require PPE such as facial masks and six feet physical distancing; and no unwell guests or crew will be allowed ashore.

        CNS: You’re both right. CMR was referenced in the article originally, but when the ministry issued a press release we updated it. At that time we no longer had need of the CMR reference as we now had an official source of information.

    • Anonymous says:

      Irrelevant. No one has addressed the question of whether we should even have any mass market cruise tourism. It appears to do more harm than good. Economically, culturally, environmentally, and otherwise. We have an opportunity. Why throw it away!

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be new to CNS

    • Anonymous says:

      I read but I don’t believe.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you read it? Read the last three paragraphs again…

    • Anonymous says:

      I find the idea of a clear PCR test for individual passengers the day before arrival less than reassuring. Say 10% of the passenger test positive- the others are still free to get off? If it’s that bullet proof then why do we insisting a PCR test for airplane passengers? Just another inconsistency

      • Anonymous says:

        PCR Testing means NOTHING on current infection.
        As more people have COVID the realisation that you can test positive via PCR for over 90 days is apparent. This is why CDC, Canada, UK have a 10 or 14 day rule AND why people with past positives don’t ned pre testing to enter USA and Canada.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are showing they at least have a plan and are willing to come to Cayman to kick off that segment of tourism for us, it is more than other cruise companies have achieved.
      No reason to think H.A. will not adhere to their own rules, as well as ours.
      Have to start somewhere ? Or would people prefer those that were in cruise tourism here before the pandemic stay on Government welfare for the rest of their lives?

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