Wed | Sep 30, 2020

Ship ahoy! - Carnival Vista returning to Ocho Rios

Published:Tuesday | March 10, 2020 | 12:27 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

A meeting between Jamaican government officials and Carnival Cruise Lines appears to have borne fruit – at least for now – as the vessel Carnival Vista returns to Ocho Rios this Wednesday.

The cruise line threatened to cut Jamaica from its itinerary last week, denying the island of some 12,000 passengers and crew who were diverted to ports in Mexico, Turks and Caicos, and the Dominican Republic, in response to the country’s stringent reporting protocol on health and temperature logs and travel records of tourists amid the global novel coronavirus outbreak.

The cancellations forced the Jamaican Government to call an emergency meeting with both Carnival and MSC executives in Miami last Friday.

The Carnival Vista is expected to carry some 4,000 passengers, plus crew, to the former cruise ship capital and once the cruise line gets back to Jamaica in relation to the protocols to be established, it is expected to be smooth sailing.

“They (ships) are going to be required to monitor the people on board, not just sending normal information of persons who may be ill,” a cruise shipping stakeholder told The Gleaner.

It was not clear whether or not the Carnival Freedom and Carnival Glory were returning to Montego Bay, after being cancelled last week, but Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett was cautiously optimistic, pointing out that a joint media statement related to the issue was expected from the Ministry of Health.

CRUISE MELTDOWN

Though warning that the cruise and aviation sector was in danger of haemorrhaging tourist traffic, Bartlett said Jamaica would ensure that its market remained focused and driven by scientific evidence.

In the meantime, a meeting has been called for Tuesday morning at The Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston with tourism stakeholders, including the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and various tour and transportation operators.

Speaking with The Gleaner on Monday, Bartlett said the outcome of today’s meeting would determine whether or not other stakeholders were brought into the fold.

“We are interested in getting an insight on a forecast of the industry,” he stated, adding that the meeting was a fact-finding one.

The Jamaican Government last week revised downwards the revenues for the tourist industry by J$76 billion for fiscal year 2020-2021, but that figure is expected to rise if COVID-19 infections continue to soar.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com