The resumption of the arrival of cruise ships in the country is uncertain, admit industry experts. This is because the market is just starting the reactivation and testing its health protocols against Covid-19.
Shipping companies like Aqua Expeditions will return to the Amazon this month and Windstar Cruises is expected to sail to the Caribbean in the fall. Princess would return in mid-December, but giants like Carnival and Holland are going through financial problems that hinder their soon return.
On the other hand, cruises have already been reactivated in the Mediterranean, with the departure of the MSC Grandiosa and the MSC Magnifica, of the Italian-Swiss MSC Cruises, operating five destinations since August. This reactivation corresponds to relatively small ships, far from the large cruise ships with between 5,000 and 6,000 passengers.
Our country has to wait
However, for Costa Rica, the reactivation would be between November 2020 and January 2021, according to the projections of the Chamber of Tourism (Canatur), the Costa Rican Association of the Cruise Industry, and the Association of Travel Agencies. The most optimistic forecast relates to Royal Caribbean’s return to sea in November, however, there is no certainty that Costa Rica will be among its first routes.
“Although several of the shipping companies that pass through Costa Rica announced their opening in November that does not mean that we will see high frequencies. We will not be able to take advantage of the high season”, estimated Sary Valverde, president of the Association of Travel Agencies.
Costa Rica has not announced the opening of maritime borders for large shipping companies, even though tourists from some countries can enter on yachts or sailboats, complying with the requirements requested of travelers who enter by air.
These requirements are a negative PCR test -which must be taken 72 hours before the trip to Costa Rica- and travel insurance that covers accommodation and medical care expenses in case of contracting Covid-19 within the national territory.
An opening to cruise ships does not mean anything until travelers regain confidence in large ships and international traffic is normalized, said Ruben Acón, president of Canatur. The cruise industry has its reputation hard hit by the pandemic, as it was the scene of the first large outbreaks of Covid-19 outside of China.
The two largest outbreaks of Coronavirus occurred on the Ruby Princess ships (March, Australia), with 852 infected and 22 deaths, and Diamond Princess (February, Japan), 712 infected, and 14 deaths.
“The reactivation is very slow, behind all the tourism activities. We are in the queue because of the bad press that occurred with the infections in Japan and the United States,” said Wagner Loría, president of the Costa Rican Association of the Cruise Industry. Last year 11,500 tourists entered the country by sea, of which each spends an average of $ 37 per day, according to ICT figures.