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Covid-19 Pandemic Impact on Cruise Ships Threatens Panama's Tourism Industry

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Cruise industry crisis  threatens Panama


Bound for the acrap yard

Posted 01/08/2020

The  cruise industry is devastated worldwide and with the Pullmantur shipping company scrapping at least two of its vessels a cloud hangs over the future of its homeport in Colón.

The Monarch had a capacity of 2,333 passengers and in recent years had made 52 departures from  Colón 2000.

Pullmantur reported that the Monarch and Sovereign vessels, two of the three ships that made up its fleet, will be dismantled and the future of the company that accepted the Spanish bankruptcy law is unknown after the coronavirus pandemic erased earnings it had made in the recent past.

The company announced in late June that operations would resume in November, but made no specific mention of departures from Panama.

Last year the company reported that it transported 406,000 passengers and 53% of its turnover was obtained in the European market, while the rest was contributed by its operation in the American continent.

The Colón 2000 port, has no information about the future of Pullmantur's operation, and the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) has not responded to inquiries.

Industry sources suggest  that a third ship, the Horizon, will also be scrapped and that there is the possibility that the company  will operate some ships  used by Royal Caribbean  but to date, there is no certainty

With the prospect that  Copa Airlines will operate with less than 10% of its fleet in the short term, it will be difficult to market a cruise ship leaving Panama in the coming years, so the future of the home port is uncertain.

Ovr  50% of the passengers that boarded Colón were South Americans (Colombians, Argentines, Ecuadorians); followed by Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans.

The Cruises Investment Holding fund and Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) own 51% and 49% of the shares of the Spanish shipping company, respectively. This week they announced Ernst & Young in Andalusia, Spain as administrator of the bankruptcy in an attempt to revive the company.

Economic loss
It is estimated that the departure of each cruise ship from Colón 2000 represented an economic injection of 750,000, which means that, the Panamanian economy is losing  $3 million  in foreign currency each month

In 2019 the ATP signed a contract with NCL (BAHAMAS) LTD, owner of the Norwegian cruise line to make departures from the port that is being built on Perico Island, in the Amador Causeway. The agreement will be effective from 2021 until 2023and  establishes that the company will depart from the new cruise port and, will transit the Panama Canal, will a tour of 7 or 9 days through the Caribbean, and end at the Colón 2000 terminal.

At the end of that tour, the cruise  ship will start a new journey departing from Colón, it will travel  through the Caribbean islands, and back to the  Canal to  dock in Amador, but  in the current environment nothing is certain,



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Crew exchange keeps door ajar for return of cruise ships


Posted 14/09/2020

The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) reported that this weekend, the technical staff supervised the exchange of 205 crew members both in the Pacific and the Atlantic, of ships of the Princess Cruises and Holland America Line companies of the Carnival Corporation based on the requirements established by the Ministry of Health (Minsa)

For the exchange, the AMP said that it coordinates with the Minsa, the Ministry of Public Security, the National Migration Service, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Tocumen International Airport SA, the National Customs Authority, among others.

The vessels, of various types and under the Panamanian flag, are at the Balboa anchorage. It is a technical-commercial strategy used by the AMP to attract passenger ships, offering them the calm waters of the Bay of Panama so that they can carry out their crew changes, in addition to using the services offered by the auxiliary maritime industries.

One of the objectives is to attract these vessels to Panama and for the country to serve as a destination port for its routes when the reactivation of the industry takes place, said. the AMP.

For the time they remain anchored in Panamanian waters, they receive only auxiliary maritime services,  operations that do not require direct physical contact between the service providers and the crews of the vessels. It refers to the supply of fuel, provisions, supplies, among other basic products for the operation of the ship.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Cruise Industry Crisis Threatens Panama
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Cruises in Panama: Incentives Generate Interest

After it was announced that incentives would be given to cruise lines that establish their base port in one of the country's maritime terminals, Lindblad Expeditions expressed its intention to operate cruises from the ports of Cristobal and Amador.

Friday, December 11, 2020

According to the letter of intent that was sent, it is 6 operations in the year 2021 and 14 operations for 2022 of Lindblad Expeditions that operates its adventure cruises with National Geographic and Ancon Expeditions in Panama.

See "Interest in Travel and Tourism: No Clear Direction"

This letter arrives weeks after it was reported that with the objective of reactivating the tourism sector, the Panamanian government decided to reimburse the payment of the toll corresponding to a transit through the Canal, to the cruise lines that establish their base port in one of the country's maritime terminals.

The incentives to the cruise ships came into effect after the Executive Decree No. 274 of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry was published in the official Gazette on November 11, 2020. See full publication.

One of the itineraries of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic on board the MV Quest will be between Panama and Costa Rica, and begins or ends at the Port of Cristobal, transiting the Panama Canal and visiting the island of Barro Colorado, where the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute operates a research center, considered "the most intensively studied tropical forest in the world", states a statement dated December 10, 2020, issued by the Panama Tourism Authority.



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Cruise lines struggle to adapt to new normal


Posted 28/04/2021

AFP The cruise companies try to erase from the collective memory the images of wandering ocean liners without a port to dock, and to reactivate the sector they announce "strict" health protocols, with vaccination, tests and preventive distance.

The year 2020 put an end to the irrepressible growth of the sector for a decade, reaching a peak in 2019, with 29.7 million passengers worldwide, of which 15.4 million of them were North American and 7.7 million European, from according to a report from the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).

The pandemic meant the sector had $48,300 of losses, says Didier Arino, director of the Protourisme consultancy. "It is a sector that will not resume its normal activity until 2025", in his opinion.

Faced with a still uncertain health situation, the companies that timidly reactivate some ships are adapting their health protocols, advocating vaccines and tests.

The American Norwegian Cruise Line, which this summer enables three of its 17 ships on routes that depart from Greece and the Caribbean - US ports are still closed to them - will only accept "fully vaccinated" people to board.

"It is not one or the other, it is about vaccination and health protocol," said Harry Sommer, CEO of the company, in a press teleconference, citing as an example the tests both when embarking and disembarking ", sanitation protocols on board, air filtration, etc.

In the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Transport imposes on authorized cruises as of May 17 with a maximum capacity of 50% of passengers and a ceiling of 1,000, and mandatory residents in the United Kingdom. On board, gatherings of more than 6 people will be prohibited and ships must be limited to sailing in British waters.



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First cruise ship returns to Panama


Posted 26/08/2021

The 2021-2022 cruise season in Panama began Thursday, August 26 with the arrival, of the Star Breeze in the waters of the Guna Yala region,  after the suspension of this activity due to the Covid pandemic.

It has been 17 months since a tourist ship of this class visited Panama and according to the authorities, its arrival is part of the economic reactivation of the country.

The Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) confirmed that the vessel of the Windstar Cruises line will be in Panama for seven days and will visit Isla Colón in Bocas del Toro, the port of Cristóbal in Colón, and on September 1 it will cross the Panama Canal.

The Star Breeze cruise ship completed its refurbishment at the end of 2020, including 50 additional cabins and, it renovated its onboard medical center to comply with international biosafety protocols.

Iván Eskildsen, Minister of Tourism, said that tourists will be landing in various towns, consuming in these communities, and injecting foreign exchange into the economy.

According to a report from the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), the Star Breeze currently has a maximum capacity of 312 passengers and 190 crew members, but due to the pandemic and international restrictions, it handles a maximum of 60% of its total passenger capacity and 98% are American.

The captain of the ship is Panamanian and during its stay in Panamanian waters he will add four Panamanian crew members the AMP reported.



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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Covid-19 Pandemic Impact on Cruise Ships Threatens Panama's Tourism Industry
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Covid No-go Travel Destinations


The Bahamas

Posted 29/08/2021

The  Bahamas and Sint Maarten, popular cruise ship destinations are included in the CDC's updated travel advisory list for COVID with six nations moving up to Level 4 status, reports CNN.

Ending up in the "Very High" risk category means that these destinations have had more than 500 new COVID cases per 100,000 residents over the last 28 days. If you absolutely have to travel to any of these places, the CDC warns you to "make sure you are fully vaccinated" first. Two of the locations on the Level 4 list are popular vacation destinations for Americans, especially cruise ship travelers. Other stay-away countries are Haiti, Morocco, Kosovo, and Lebanon.



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