By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Royal Caribbean yesterday became the latest cruise line to target a mid-June restart despite no indication being given as to when The Bahamas’ borders will re-open.
The cruise industry giant updated its website to state it has pushed back the target date to resume sailing from May 12 to June 12 despite Renward Wells, minister of transport, asserting that only the government - through the Prime Minister’s Office - can determine when these vessels can return.
A Royal Caribbean spokesman was guarded in his response to Mr Wells’ comments, saying via e-mail: “I can tell you that we are working with government and health officials to determine the best options for everyone. The safety of our guests, crew and our great partners who work with us in the Caribbean are our top priority.”
Meanwhile, a representative for Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line (BPCL) told Tribune Business it still intends to resume sailing to The Bahamas on June 13 when informed of Mr Wells’ comments.
They said: “Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s plans to resume sailings on June 13 are aligned with many other ocean cruise lines, and fall within the CDC’s (US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s) most recent guidelines.
“We continue closely monitoring the fluid situation surrounding COVID-19, and are prepared to make any required changes to our sailing schedule as things continue to evolve.”
Mr Wells, though, seemingly put the brakes on Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s planned resumption of voyages to The Bahamas in mid-June by saying only the Competent Authority - meaning the Prime Minister’s Office - could decide when this will take place because the country’s borders remain closed.
He said: “As you know, the Competent Authority under the emergency orders is the entity that is making those decisions. There have been requests from a number of cruise lines as to whether or not they can resume services. The government of the country is looking as to what time that can happen, but it is not going to happen before we actually open up the economy.”
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line announced on Monday that the Grand Celebration will resume cruises to The Bahamas on June 13, and the Grand Classica on July 10. However, the tourism industry’s re-opening - together with The Bahamas’ borders - is only scheduled to occur in the sixth and final phase of the economy’s re-opening. The Bahamas is currently in the first phase, meaning that the resumption of cruise tourism appears a long way off.
Mr Wells added: “They may like to resume in June. Obviously, as the prime minister constantly says, we’re going be guided by the medical professionals as to whether or not we’re going, and when we’re going, to open the economy.”