First cruise ship to dock in George Town next month

| 24/11/2021 | 246 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 (246)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    May I remind you that Covid originally came here……ON A CRUISE SHIP!!!!!

  2. Annie says:

    Holland America is a line that caters to older, budget conscious cruisers. Why would we pick a line with the most vulnerable and cheapest passengers to be our first. Are we selling Black Jack gum or an elite product? Apparently Black Jack gum.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As I long-time stayover visitor I am gob-smacked. If and when I finally get to return to Cayman next summer I will need a negative PCR test and 3 (paid-for) lateral flow tests. We bring our own rubbish bags and spend time on each holiday clearing up local beaches littered with debris. In recent years I have watched cruise passengers depart from Rum Point leaving cans and plastic cups on the sand – clearly they think that it’s part of their tour package to have someone clear up after them!
    A golden opportunity for the island wasted.

    • Anonymous says:

      Strange that they don’t have to go through the travel cayman application mess, oops I mean process of vaccine verification. Way to tell stay over visitors that they are not valued as much as cruise tourists. Applied for travel certificate 14 days ago for many members of the family and today received an email asking for the document in a PDF. Which application are we talking about? Shame they can’t put a name on the email so I know whose application needs the vaccine card in PDF form, but they can send me some random persons travel approval (yes they did). Can’t have one rule for one person and another rule for others. If air travellers have to apply through travel cayman then cruise passengers just too.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I thought the government were going to address the tour price split between operators & the ships before allowing ships back? Looks like it’s back to $10 for Stingray City trip.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Given that the cruise company is willing to revise its schedule just to get here I guess it is correct to say that the cruise ships want to come here quite badly.

    • Anonymous says:

      Think about how many people want to come here and actually stay for a week or two. That’s the money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cruise lines need appealing destinations to sell cruises and a stop between Jamaica and Cancun for their Western Caribbean itinerary, – that’s all we are, an appealing destination for the cruise lines to market their cruises

  6. Dah wa yuh get says:

    What were people expecting when Wayne, Kenny and crew formed a government promoted by a convicted cyber bully, were never transparent about their alliances and sold our souls for the sake of power by using Maceeva to get there.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Have not met anyone in the last year that wants cruise back. Bring nothing to the island financially or in any other way. Ban them.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Read the requirements to go on the cruise.
    Must have a negative ANTIGEN or PCR Test!

    The moment these people arrive in Cayman with their 72 hour Antigen test accepted it then must be accepted for flights!

  9. Anonymous says:

    If these cruisers knew what to expect from people in Cayman, they will never disembark that ship.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It’s not about what the cruise ship tourists will be bring into the country, it’s about what they may take away. My guess, if they’ve done their epidemiological homework, they’ll realize that Covid in Cayman is rampant and stay onboard. Let’s see just how many people actually disembark from the Nieuw Statendam

  11. Anonymous says:

    Just when exactly was the learned Minister going to share this tid bit with ‘his people’ if it hadn’t been leaked. The first announcement should not be coming from CMR. Disgraceful!

    Why didn’t he just say something two weeks ago such as …”we may try one cruise ship on a trial basis….” but no, he said no cruise ships till March.

    He must think his people are stupider than he is.!

    • Anonymous says:

      They voted for him, so go figure

    • Anonymous says:

      He is Mac’s mouthpiece and following his hero’s style of backroom deals. The unprincipled inspired and led by the unscrupulous.

    • Chris Johnson says:


      The minister has no clue what he is doing. He is out of his depth.

      All we get from his department is disinformation.

      Wayne please promote him sideways.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is it possible to buy a ticket out of here?

  13. Anonymous says:

    This brings Bryant’s political career to an end. . . what part of “we don’t want cruise ships back” doesn’t he understand? He’s stopped listening t the people.

    • Anonymous says:

      So easy to say what you “don’t want”. Try expressing that thought with what Cayman can afford without the cruise ship revenue … exactly.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cruise ship revenue is irrelevant to government accounts. On the other hand cruise ships carry disease, damage the environment, create havoc in our capital and spread pollution. A decision to ban cruise ships is the obvious choice apart from kickbacks.

  14. Anonymous says:

    We Caymanians are really good at criticizing any initiative by any sitting government. That’s what we do. But true talk, without diversifying the national revenue (from financial services) how can the country continue to survive, maintain infrastructure and everything else required to keep Cayman alive? Come on wake up and stop drinking the Kool-Aid the political detractors are selling. We are smarter than that Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Many Caribbean island nations rely on tourism as their main pillar, often bolstered by construction to varying degrees.

      Cayman on the other hand has the luxury of a strong financial sector as its pillar, construction likely a close second. Because tourism is not the primary (but yes an important contributing piece of the economic landscape), Cayman has the luxury of being able to be more selective as to what types of tourism they want to cater to. This is an enviable position to be in and should not be dismissed or squandered. Recognize and leverage the strengths you have!

      • JTB says:

        Yes, but keep in mind CIMA is busily destroying the financial services industry

        • Anonymous says:

          …busily and quickly and industry is unwilling to stop them. They don’t consult, they issue Fatwas based upon a fundamental but deep dearth of business acumen.

          When the golden goose is dead and gone, CIG will be wondering where the magic money tree went……

        • Anonymous says:

          @JTB- I’ve listened to that response for the past 2.5 decades. The industry continues to grow. When will I start to see the negative impacts? Next decade? Or the one after?

          • Jtb says:

            They are already happening, in my experience

            Clients are finding other jurisdictions and pulling their business out of Cayman

    • Anonymous says:

      How can we afford the cost of damage to our island? We could easily cut our pattern according to the cloth

  15. Patrick Broderick says:

    Why all the panic. Covid will be here for a long time and most of us will be infected sooner or later. Those vaccinated will recover completely. The unvaccinated will be less safe and i have no sympathy for them. We should have opened the borders months ago what is the difference doing it now.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s nothing to do with panic for most of us Patrick. It’s about inequitable treatment. I personally couldn’t give two shits if cruise ships come or not but they will come over my dead body while quarantine requirements remain in place for our Caymanian children.

    • Anonymous says:

      Holland America and MoT are openly colluding in a lie to us over a month in advance. Their published itinerary and DeSantis level port of embarkation rules demonstrate contempt for this negotiated agreement and that they don’t intend to willingly comply in good faith with any part of it, accept perhaps accidentally.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m not entirely sure what you’re conveying here. With regards to DeSantis overruling a requirement for cruise guests to be vaccinated yes, but from what I understand if you get on a cruise without vaccination everything you do is going to be hampered by a lot of restrictions in place initiated by the cruise lines. From what I’ve read the cruise lines don’t want unvaccinated guests/crew on board and weren’t happy with the Desantis ruling. The last thing they need is more COVid cruise cases across the press following an already devastated reputation. Published itinerary, probably hasn’t been updated yet on web sites if the actual date has changed. Whether we believe the MOT’s change confirmation or not, agreed everything from the Minister to be taken with a large helping of salt from here on in.

        With regards to cruise guests spreading COVid (at least delta at this point) I don’t believe that’s a significant concern when considering the above. The underlying principle following our Govt’s hash up as shown on here multiple times is the inconsistent rules being applied with vaccination requirements, the dereliction of previous stated intentions and policy and the lack of transparency that comes with it. It might only seem like a couple of things but the couple of things are substantive when looked at from an electorate who voted in a Govt on the proposed platforms, not good at all.

  16. Anonymous says:

    So my Caymanian child must quarantine for 15 days while foreigners freely roam our streets? Oh hell no Kenny, we will block the port.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I’ve looked but cant find it, – can someone please see if they can find the ‘Manhunt International’ theme song ringtone for Wendy to download and then we can all call her at the Ministers next press conference ? 🕺🏽☎️

  18. JTB says:

    So they’re allowing cruise ships in but expect me to quarantine my child?

    Fcuk that Mr Bryan. And fcuk you.

  19. Anonymous says:

    One day We’ll Get There @ 834pm – Bravo!! It’s so condescending. Also, “my Ministry”, “my Chief Officer” etc. WTF!!

    Instead they should say “the Ministry for which I’m responsible” or “the Chief Officer of this Ministry”, etc.

    Morons don’t even know proper protocols, or grammar for that matter. I know of a very senior public servant who told someone that they intend to “silence” their critics (meaning to deliver improvements to address public concerns). That choice of words sound like Putin, Duterte, Lukashenko, Trump!! But do they know any better? No!! They don’t even know proper “diploma-speak” which is usually expected from “leaders” the world over.

    They believe they personally own public services until there’s accountability, then it’s “step back and point fingers” time!! Disgusting!!

    Cayman has had only 3 MPs (Ministers/ExCo Members included) with any backbone and decency since November 1976 – Norman Bodden, Ezzard Miller and Roy Bodden. All the rest have been Lodge or C of C lackeys, reprehensible bullies, scheming self-interested nepotists and most have been totally unqualified populist morons!

    The present bunch are the poster children!!

  20. Anonymous says:


  21. Anonymous says:

    So I have to quarantine for 15 days with my SIX MONTH old CAYMANIAN BABY but Kenneth is letting in 1600 tourists to sell some t-shirts??? Yea this makes sense…. I just can’t even with this PACT government. These guys couldn’t find their ass with both hands!

  22. Anonymous says:

    They lied to the people of the Cayman Islands.

  23. Anonymous says:

    “We will first assess the COVID-19 situation on January 27 next year in a local and international context to determine when and how to proceed with further relaxation of restrictions and travel,” Premier Wayne Panton said. “If the assessment allows, we would begin to welcome all travellers and start the re-introduction of cruise tourism.”

    trustworthy ? take him at his word ? authentic ? – naahh, grab yourselves a Snickers, trying to come up with something printable, gonna be awhile 🤢

    • Anonymous says:

      I would also add that he refuses to do briefings and take questions from the actual media but goes on a gossip site to do an interview. Does he have such a low estimation of Caymanians that he does not believe any of them read the actual news and not just social media?

  24. One Day We'll Get There says:

    A message to all politicians. Please stop referring to us as “my people”. It is very patronizing and we are not your people. Some of us think that some of you are complete muppets. Instead, rather refer to us as “the people of the Cayman Islands”. That way you sound like a grown-up. Here endeth this morning’s lesson.

  25. Anonymous says:

    So when the people we should have as political leaders were at colleg, or starting their careers through hard work and honesty, this person was poncing around in a male beauty contest and dealing drugs.

    Says it all about the political class in Cayman today.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Which business owner is going to staff up and turn on the A/C for one shitty ship? None.

  27. Anonymous says:

    You all voted in this government with blinders on. You thought they would make things better for you, the environment and the future of Cayman. Instead they are killing your country and your people. Look at the Pines! There is a complete disregard for the people of this country. As a Caymanian i fear for you this country and the people that voted in a government hoping for change. The more Covid the more things will lock down and the more it will hurt this country and it’s people. This is a short sighted strategy. This government can sit up on that podium all day and talk about the “what they have done” which is nothing but let the virus spread and hurt their people and the “plan” that we all know they don’t have. Wake up Cayman. This government does NOT know what they are doing nor do they care for you and your families. If you can’t see that you are blind!! But you voted them in so now have to eat it.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s so funny that you think the last government would have done any better. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

      I’m still good with Wayne. Thanks

  28. Anonymous says:

    I am beginning to think that the truth would not be recognised by PACT if it jumped up and bit them in the a$$ – KB is quoted as saying, “Guests and crew aboard the ship will be subjected to exactly the same requirements as stay-over visitors,”

    Clearly that is not the case. Antigen tests that are far less accurate than PCR tests are going to be accepted for pre-departure testing. Further Travel Cayman will not be verifying any of the vaccination documentation of any of these passengers or crew the way they do for stay-over visitors. We have no way of knowing the vaccination of the potentially infected passengers and crew that will leave that ship.

    • Anonymous says:

      You really didn’t expect a man with Kenny’s past to tell the truth did you.?

    • Corruption is endemic says:

      Former NY Giants Coach Bill Parcells once said:

      “You are what your record says you are.”

      In Kenny’s case he is a self-admitted liar and his record is criminal.

      If you lower your expectations for him to ground level, then get a shovel and dig down a bit into the dirt, you may find a level he can hit.

  29. Anon says:

    Why do cruise shippers stepping off a cess pool of disease only require a rapid antigen test? While I am flying, and require not just a PCR test, but 3 more LFT tests after that???
    If we are trusting rapid antigens, then let’s trust them for flyers and cess pool mongers.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I had high hopes for Wayne and Andre but accepted the rest of them ranged from hopelessly inept to a disgrace and an embarrassment. If this marks a return to mass cruise ship arrivals then it seems my faith in the former was misplaced. Sad. Feels like the beginning of the end for any quality of life here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well Wayne is “in charge” so he is the biggest embarrassment of the lot.

      He still has his defenders but that has to be driven by personal interests and ties at this point.

      Anyone rational listening to him or observing what has happened during his term would prefer if he just took his giant boat and went fishing.

      He has been beyond bad and I think he knows it. His body language is that of a defeated man and I think he is aware of his failures but can’t break out of the trap of the non-party he created for himself.

      The scary part is the other options within the PACT are probably worse.

      • Anonymous says:

        spot on 9:02, – it certainly makes you think whats going on, outside of that everything almost takes on the appearance of self sabotage

  31. Anonymous says:

    The PACT government has made such a mess of their management of the pandemic that nothing really matters anymore. It is just unfortunate that the voters don’t have an opportunity to make a course correction.

  32. Anonymous says:

    At least Holland America customers have a few $ to spend but still, it’ll be Carnival trash business as usual as soon as this government can… shame. Any chance of improving our tourism product or revitalising GT is now dead. T shirt shops and snow globes it is. Garbage.

    • Anonymous says:

      A couple on that departure date (Christmas week, high season) can get an all inclusive cabin for two for less than $1800USD including tips, taxes and port fees.

      We will be lucky to sell them a t shirt.

    • Cruise retailer says:

      No offense at all, and yes Carnival is the bottom of the barrel, but you are mistaken. HAL is a budget cruise line. They cater to penny pinching seniors. We never even bothered to open if they were the only ship in port on a holiday pre Covid. They still expect 1950s prices in today’s market, and are one of our worst preforming lines in terms of sales data.

  33. Anonymous says:

    yawn…never seen so much waffle in the comment sections.
    this poses zero risk to cayman and the passengers will have much less infection (if any) compared to the general population.
    still waiting for someone to explain , if the same safety protocols are applied, what is the difference of someone stepping off a ship or a plane?
    for those who are anti-cruise because of environmental issues….please read up on the environmental impact of air travel.

    • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

      I love the irony of someone starting a post with “facts:” and then going on to tell us their unsubstantiated opinion.

      Oh, and beginning with “yawn” — there’s an indicator of productive commentary.

      How about this? If you want cruise ships here, why not state your case as to why you believe them to be a benefit. That way, you establish a base for discussion … … if that is your goal.

    • Anonymous says:

      OK I’ll play.

      A one week cruise from Florida uses approximately 500,000 gallons of dirty fuel oil and carries 5000 passengers so approx 14 GALLONS per person for the day that they are in Cayman for SIX HOURS.

      A return flight from Florida uses 2000 gallons of avgas and carries 200 passengers so 10 gallons per person for a week or more in Cayman. Even if you factor in their CUC use for a week (call it 300kWh for a big old suite at the Ritz between 3 people for a week at 18kWh/gallon = 5 gallons of diesel). So stay over tourism approx 15 GALLONS per person for ONE WEEK in Cayman.

      If Panton is serious about the environment he’ll place a cap on cruise numbers NOW before it’s business as usual. If not, we’ll know exactly how serious he is. If a rich island 6ft above sea level in a hurricane zone can’t lead by example then we’ve got real problems.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Why would our government allow cruise ships to come back at this stage? Are we that greedy that we have to jump on everything at one time. Surely, even the blind man can see disaster with this decision on so many levels.
    Come on Caymanian voters hold the leaders accountable and demand they delay allowing this form of tourism for now.
    We always go biting off more than we can handle, ease back into the tourism market, have we not learned anything?

  35. Anonymous says:

    PACT allowing cruise ships back now is betrayal. We should protest.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Nieuw Statendam – 2,666 passengers.

  37. Anonymous says:

    What the actual f***. Really? Are we not in Phase 4 of reopening? No cruise ships in Pase 4 and 5 no? And we ourselves, living here can’t even have family with unvaccinated kids visiting or go on holidays without being locked in for 2 weeks. So unfair and ridiculous.

  38. Tundi says:

    Have you not identified the snake in the grass who has a nice machete to stab you in the back.
    This cruise ship will bring this shambles of a Gov down.
    Ps how will travel cayman deal with all the travel authorities from the ship that air fare passengers need to submit.

  39. Anonymous says:

    If they wanted to do a test run why did they not select a ship with 200 passengers rather than one with 1600 passengers plus hundreds of crew?
    Are they going to be monitoring Holland America’s compliance with agreed terms and if so how?

  40. Anonymous says:

    I find it harder to believe that the cruise company is misleading its clients with an incorrect advertised itinerary than the alternative which is that PACT is misleading us.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Please bring on a Nor’Wester

  42. Anonymous says:

    What does ‘the plan’ say about should a NorWester come through that week, everyone’s got everything up in place for one ship and then, – maybe you finish that for me Mr Manhunt International

  43. Anonymous says:

    CNS- No surprise but what the cruise line has published in respect of the December cruise scheduled to arrive in Cayman is completely different from what the Minister’s statement says.

    Here is the cruise line’s advertised itinerary for the December cruise coming to Cayman. Please note the non-conformity with the Minister’s statement:
    Cayman is not the first port of call, not all guests are required to be vaccinated, etc etc etc.

    • Anonymous says:



      Based on these references, the cruise is not coming to George Town, Cayman Islands

      Also, tells you much about the professionalism of the company itself. Would trust the company no more that I trust this pact.

    • Anonymous says:

      “In and around George Town, the Cayman Islands’ capital, you’ll find such an amazing array of culinary offerings, you’ll fear for the future of any buttons, snaps or hooks on your waistband.”

      How do they not know their passengers disembark at 10am and reboard at 4pm, with a 5pm sail? Doesn’t seem to leave much time for dinner plans.

      Tender monopolists, Atlee and Adrien, serving up a targeted plug for Rum Point property.

  44. Anonymous says:

    What an absolutely rediculous thing to do.
    After the last lot were hell-bent on selling off the country and furthering the wealth if the few, i had hoped PACT would be different but lets face it, everything they’ve done so far has been shambolic from day 1.

    • Anonymous says:

      Its because of the excellent economic and fiscal management of the last lot in government that the country is as well placed as we are. I prefer them than this shambling lot.

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