BELIZE CITY; Wed. July 7, 2021– Today was an electrifying day at the Fort Street Tourism Village as the first cruise ship arrived in Belize after almost 17 months of absolute inactivity within the cruise tourism industry.
Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista arrived in the country as one of the cruise line’s first two ships to depart from the US since the resumption of Carnival’s cruise excursions this past week. The cruise departed from Galveston, Texas, on July 3 and, over a 7-day period, is traversing the Caribbean, with Belize being among the featured ports. (Approximately one week before the Carnival Vista set sail, a ship named Celebrity Edge, belonging to Royal Caribbean Cruises, left Miami, making Royal Caribbean the first cruise operator to have a ship set sail from a U.S. port since the beginning of the pandemic.)
“The return of Carnival Vista to Belize represents a tremendous step forward for the local community,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.
In Belize, representatives of the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) were on the ground to ensure a smooth first day. BTB’s Director of Cruise and Destination Planning, Noriko Gamero, told local reporters that, of the over 2800 passengers who arrived on the Carnival Vista, at least 97% are vaccinated.
“We have 2,810 total passengers on the Carnival Vista, so you know that’s not a hundred percent capacity. And over 97% of them are vaccinated. So, the remainder are the children or people of religious beliefs. So, those people were put into what we call a bubble tour, and then they were taken on tours with additional, enhanced safety measures,” Gamero explained.
In a press release, Carnival Cruise Line’s president said, “We look forward to bringing back the benefits and fun of cruising while remaining committed to our highest responsibilities and top priorities of the health, safety, and well-being of our guests, crew, and the many communities we serve and visit.”
Gamero informed the media that passengers who disembarked from the ship wore color-coded stickers to indicate their specific tours. The tours on which such passengers were taken, were coordinated in their entirety— from the tendering of passengers to the respective locations for loading, with full visibility of signage, markers, and demarcations to ensure health protocol compliance.
“We just separate so that we continue with the social distancing, making sure no congestions, families together. You could see everyone’s wearing their masks, staying safe, sanitizing and making today successful,” Gamero said.
According to Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival cruise ships have brought approximately 2.5 million guests to port over the past 5 years.
The return of cruise tourism in the country comes as a huge relief for many who have been out of work for the past 15-plus months and hopefully signals the reemergence of the tourism sector in Belize.