Carnival Cruise Line has decided not to dock in Jamaica or Cayman Islands after those countries refused to allow an MSC Cruises ship to come ashore last week.
The Miami-based cruise line this week informed passengers on the Carnival Horizon that they would not be permitted to go ashore in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, on Tuesday, as originally scheduled, while passengers on the Carnival Freedom were told they would not be disembarking in the country’s port at Montego Bay.
Passengers of both ships were also told they would not be getting off at George Town, Cayman Island, later in the week.
Last week, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands refused to permit the MSC Meraviglia, carrying 4,488 passengers and more than 1,600 crew members, to dock in the two countries out of concern about a crew member who was experiencing flu symptoms. MSC accused the countries of overreacting, saying the crew member had only a common strain of the flu and had tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
In a statement to guests of the Horizon and Freedom, Carnival clarified that it alone made the decision to avoid the Caribbean destinations.
“We are implementing some itinerary changes on voyages scheduled to call on Grand Cayman and Jamaica this week,” the statement said. “A number of Caribbean destinations continue to work through their policies with regards to cruise ship visits. And while we are following all U.S. CDC and World Health Organization screening protocols and guidelines, we want to avoid any possibility of a visit to a destination where there is uncertainty or we risk being turned away.
“To be clear, there is no health situation on board to trigger this concern, but we are making this change to avoid even the possibility of a disruption. We understand some guests will be disappointed and trust they will understand that this decision is being made to protect their vacation and maximize their experience with us.”
Carnival’s decision came as tourism and health officials in the two nations try to balance their need to prevent their citizens from being exposed against tourism workers’ dependance on the money that the ships bring ashore.
According to the Cayman Islands’ daily news site Cayman Compass, Carnival originally revised itineraries of three of its ships to exclude the British overseas territory. But after meeting with the islands’ minister of tourism, the cruise line relented and sent its Carnival Paradise to Grand Cayman. Three other cruise ships were docked on Tuesday along with the Paradise at the port, the Compass reported.
The Compass quoted Joseph Woods, the islands port authority director, as saying itineraries of “some ships” have been adjusted “not because there are any passengers with the virus or infectious diseases on board, but simply because they may be unable to meet Cayman’s requirements for those particular calls.”
Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said by email Tuesday that the Carnival Paradise was allowed to revert back to the ship’s original itinerary, including a stop in Grand Cayman, “based on our ongoing conversations with our destination partners.”
He added that Carnival’s decision to steer the Horizon and Freedom away from the Jamaican and Cayman Islands ports is in effect for this week only. The travel booking website Orbitz.com shows the Carnival Horizon sailing from Miami on March 29 with planned stops in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.