Cartagena, Colombia, Aug 24 (EFE).- After remaining shut down for the past 17 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the historic port of Cartagena, Colombia’s main tourist destination, on Tuesday welcomed the Star Breeze cruise ship with the Windstar Cruise line with 87 tourists on board.
The vessel, which had sailed from Curacao, docked at the city’s cruise ship terminal, where under strict health protocols it was received by city authorities and where it will remain for 15 hours before setting sail for neighboring Panama.
Cartagena has designed a biosecure tourist corridor whereby it intends to guarantee the health security both of anyone on board cruise ships as well as of local residents who welcome them and work at the port and at places in the city that tourists regularly visit.
According to the coordinator of the Cartagena port cruise ship terminal, Maria Emilia Bonilla, the biosecurity guarantees that are now bringing cruise ships to the city have not been implemented in any other tourism sector “given that it is required that 95 percent of the passengers and 98 percent of the crew be vaccinated.”
“In addition to that, a negative Covid-19 test is required to embark and Covid-19 tests are administered to 100 percent of the people who board the cruise ships,” Bonilla said.
She also said that the vessels have reserved cabins in which to isolate people testing positive and to house patients who are critically ill, and self-service services have been suspended on board and restaurant capacity has been reduced.
Port authorities said that expectations are that for the 2021-2022 tourist season, which began with the arrival of the Star Breeze and will end next June 14, they expect to collect $34 million in income derived from tourism.
Despite the fact that 122 cruise ships are scheduled to arrive in Cartagena this season, this is far below the activity during the 2018-2019 season, for instance, when the city welcomed about 620,000 visitors and ships from 34 different cruise lines, all of which had an economic impact of some $70 million.
It is also uncertain whether the city will once again return to being an embarkation port as it had been before the Spanish cruise company Pullmantur Cruises cancelled all its activities.
The cruise lines that have confirmed they will return to the port of Cartagena include Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Aida Cruises, MSC Cruises, Marbella Cruises and Regent Seven Seas.