Posted: Friday, April 16, 2021. 2:07 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Norwegian Cruise Line, owners of the Harvest Caye cruise port off Placencia, has announced that it will resume port calls there on August 9, 2021, as the Norwegian Joy will call there from Montego Bay, Jamaica.
This marks a “safe reopening” of the cruise tourism sector in Belize according to a statement by The Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations and the Belize Tourism Board as described in an official statement from the latter.
Cruise tourism was one of the first industries to shut down entirely last March and has been one of the slowest to return following horror stories of treatment aboard vessels at sea last year. It employs thousands of Belizeans, whom the Board says will be ready to welcome cruise guests back to the Jewel.
Tourism workers are among the first two phases of Belize’s national vaccination program, and an increase in tourism businesses in the cruise sector continues to meet the requirements for the Gold Standard Certification (Belize’s Health and Safety Management Program for the Tourism Sector). With the collaboration of the private sector and relevant government agencies, Belize has also developed health and safety protocols that support the safe restart of cruising to Belize, the Board announced.
Further, cruise lines have also developed health and safety protocols and have carried thousands of passengers successfully on cruises in Europe and Asia in recent months. NCL will use its SailSAFE Health and Safety Program to ensure the safety of guests while aboard and onshore. As a part of these measures, NCL will require mandatory vaccination of all crew and guests. Each destination on the itinerary will also be operating with enhanced protocols. The ships have undergone extensive renovations such as upgraded medical-grade air filtration systems onboard, upgraded medical facilities, revamped layout of activity areas to meet social distancing, and enhanced sanitizing stations, to name a few.
And NCL as an employer has not been shy about its part in helping affected communities donating more than a quarter-million dollars in dry goods and foods in Stann Creek and Belize City.
Cruise tourism is likely to look very different in the coming years, with the building of potentially three cruise ports in the Belize District – Stake Bank to the north; a port in Port Loyola directly on the southern coast of Belize City, and Port of Magical Belize near the Sibun River, in addition to Harvest Caye.
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