MSC Cruises revealed in a webinar yesterday that it plans to cruise to The Bahamas in November and December, with scheduled stops to Nassau and its private island Ocean Cay, where the itinerary could include an overnight stop.
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar told Guardian Business yesterday that when cruise ships are ready to sail again The Bahamas will welcome them.
D’Aguilar said both The Bahamas and cruise lines will have to acclimate themselves to the COVID-19 protocols that will govern the industry indefinitely, and stagger the restart of cruise tourism.
“Some companies will want to come into the Port of Nassau, which is great,” said D’Aguilar.
“These are the conditions under which they will visit your port. They will be concerned about us, and we’ll be concerned about them. We have to make it work.”
MSC’s website includes two possible itineraries for November, one that includes Nassau, and nine for December, several of which include Nassau.
All of the MSC itineraries feature stops at its Ocean Cay Marine Reserve, the private island the cruise line debuted in earnest only this year, before the cruise industry was shut down by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
According to the webinar, many of MSC’s longer itineraries departing out of Port Canaveral, Florida, at both the end of 2020 and in spring of 2021 and onward, will feature overnight stays on Ocean Cay.
The cruise line, along with other major cruise lines in August, voluntarily halted their return to cruising until October 31, while Wednesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended its own no-sail order for cruise lines to the same date.
Its original no-sail order expired Wednesday.
The Bahamas will have fully opened to stopover visitors when the cruise industry ends its self-imposed and CDC-directed ban on sailing.
Guardian Business understands the CDC and cruise lines will meet in Washington, DC, today to further flesh out plans for the cruise industry’s reopening.