The sight of Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze docked in Cartagena, Colombia was a welcome sight yesterday as the ship became the first to call on the country since the COVID-19 pandemic first began last year. Windstar was the first of a scheduled 26 cruise line to call on Cartagena during this cruise season, a little over half of the total ship calls from the 2019-2020 season.
“We continue working for the safe economic reactivation of the country and its tourism sector. In addition to what has been achieved for the return of shipping companies to the country, we have made great efforts to comply with the biosecurity measures implemented in the city and activate all the actors in the chain,” said María Ximena Lombana Villalba, Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism. “It was requested that the crew of the cruise ships must be vaccinated and the vessels must have effective measures aimed, if there are positive cases of COVID-19, to identify symptomatic passengers and have spaces available for isolation”.
The list of other cruise lines with future scheduled calls on the city include Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Scenic Luxury Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Princess Cruises and MSC Cruises.
For those on board Star Breeze, today’s tour of the city will include a visit to San Felipe Fortress, the Old City, as well as a Colombian coffee tasting.
What Does the Cruise Ship Return Mean for Colombia?
According to Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia, the agency in charge of promoting tourism in Colombia, the value of cruise calls cannot be understated.
“This is a key sector for the development and safe economic reactivation of the country because it generates income of more than $60 million dollars per season. For this reason, since last year all the entities linked to the cruise industry have worked on a common purpose to make a safe return for both passengers and destinations,” he said.
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ProColombia worked on the safe restart of cruising together with the Port of Cartagena, the Ministry of Health, the Cruise Terminal, the Mayor’s Office of Cartagena, the District Administrative Department of Health of Cartagena-DADIS, Risk Management and the Cartagena Tourism Corporation as well as the private sector at the head of tour operators and shipping agents.
Colombia’s Proactive COVID-19 Protocols
Colombia was the first country in Latin America to adopt a Tourism Biosafety Seal, called Check-in Certificado, created by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Tourism and endorsed by the World Tourism Organization and the World Travel & Tourism Council. As of today, more than 730 companies in the tourism sector have received the certification. Nearly 35 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the country since the vaccine first became available in the spring.