NICOSIA — In what could be a harbinger of the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic's grip – even as it lingers and people are still suffering and dying – vaccination programs are allowing conditional international travel, with cruise ships coming back to Cyprus.
The ships had been seen as super spreaders of the Coronavirus because of their packed quarters with little chance for safe social distancing and the sector had seen outbreaks of other viruses that were difficult to contain.
But with people crazy to travel again and break away from the fear, the industry is so hopeful that a number of major international cruise line companies said they're setting sail, so to speak, for favored spots, Cyprus among them.
In a report for The Financial Mirror, Nawaf Abdulla, CDO of DP World Limassol, the major tourism port destination on the island noted that the list includes
Royal Caribbean, Celestyal, Seabourn, Azamara, and Celebrity.
Some began operation to the island in April but most are looking toward the summer with the government easing out of a lockdown although visitors must be safe fron COVID-19.
They'll have to show proof of vaccination, a negative Coronavirus test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival or that they have recovered from the disease as a condition for entry, although still required to meet the island's health measures.
“Cruise passengers will have the opportunity to participate in local excursions, including rural villages and heritage sites, thereby rejuvenating the local economy and tourism sector,” he wrote.
Perhaps the biggest announcement is that Royal Caribbean made Limassol its homeport for the first time, showing how important the island is to the industry and a favored destination for tourists.
Royal Caribbean will be carrying cruise itineraries to the Greek isles this summer – calling at Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, and Piraeus – with Jewel of the Seas, bringing even more benefits to Limassol too.
Foreign travelers who want to go on the specific cruise will first have to fly into Cyprus and stay there for a few days, bringing in additional revenue for the country, he noted.
He said ever since taking over as operator of the Cruise Terminal, DP World Limassol had recognized Cyprus’ potential and the multiple benefits that a thriving cruise industry would bring to the local society.
The company has worked on making Limassol a port of choice for cruise lines and visitors, Cyprus needing them with tourism the biggest revenue driver for the island trying to recover from lockdowns and businesses kept closed.
Minister of Transport, Yiannis Karousos, pointed out at the official presentation of the health protocol, which was held at Limassol Port, That, “Every crisis creates opportunities, and this is the chance for us to develop the cruise sector further and prove to these companies that we do have a tourism product, and we can offer the services needed to attract as many cruises and passengers as possible, thereby boosting our economy”.
There are strict health protocols aboard the ships too, the industry realizing the consequences should be there an outbreak that would dock the ships and drive people away.
“These precautions protect passengers and boost the cruising public’s confidence and governments, who may be worried that disembarking cruise passengers could exacerbate the epidemiological situation in their countries,” he wrote.