Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced last week that it will resume port calls to Harvest Caye in Southern Belize, on August 9, 2021. Norwegian Joy will depart from its home port in Montego Bay, Jamaica on August 7, and will include Belize as a part of its week-long Western Caribbean itinerary.
The Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations and the Belize Tourism Board welcome this Return to Service announcement from NCL, as it signals the safe reopening of the cruise tourism sector in Belize. It has been over a year since the cruise industry in our region has been suspended, and the thousands of Belizeans that work in this sector are ready to welcome cruise guests to our shores once again.
Vaccinations are being rolled out to the tourism workforce in Belize, and an increase in tourism businesses in the cruise sector continue 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.
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 their 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 on board, upgraded medical facilities, revamped layout of activity areas to meet social distancing and enhanced sanitizing stations, to name a few.
NCL’s President and Chief Executive Officer Harry Sommer said, “Over a year after we initially suspended sailings, the time has finally come when we can provide our loyal guests with the news of our great cruise comeback. We have been working diligently towards our resumption of operations, focusing on the guest experience with health and safety at the forefront. The growing availability of the COVID-19 vaccine has been a game changer. The vaccine, combined with our science-backed health and safety protocols, will help us provide our guests with what we believe will be the healthiest and safest vacation at sea.”
The return of cruise tourism is a very important step in Belize’s efforts to recover the economy. Last month, NCL donated more than $225,000 in dry goods and foods to benefit Belizean families and other southern communities in the Stann Creek District and Belize City. The donation helped local citizens economically impacted by the effects of the global pandemic. As the sector continues to prioritize the health and safety of both guests and locals, Belize is committed to the ongoing monitoring and preparation required to welcome additional cruise calls in the coming months.