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Colombia Welcomes First Cruise Since Pandemic

The first cruise has docked at the Port of Cartagena, after more than a year and a half without shipping companies arriving in Colombia. The Star Breeze has arrived at Cartagena on Aug. 24 carrying 312 passengers and 190 crew members.

According to a press release, the Windstar Cruises vessel is on a 14-day itinerary that includes the destinations of Aruba, Curaçao, Colombia and Panama. The tour for cruise passengers in Cartagena includes a visit to San Felipe Fortress, the Old City, as well as a Colombian coffee tasting.

“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,” the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, María Ximena Lombana Villalba, said.

In addition, she highlighted the measures determined in a new legal framework where “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.”

26 cruise lines are projected to arrive in Cartagena and seven in Santa Marta, both cities located in the Greater Caribbean region of the country. This represents a recovery of 57 percent of the calls the country had for the 2019-2020 season, said ProColombia, a government agency working on tourism.

Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Scenic Luxury Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Princess Cruises and MSC Cruises are also planning to make calls in Cartagena soon; and for Santa Marta Norwegian Cruise Line and Ritz Carlton Yacht, among others, are expected to arrive.

Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia, said that the first call was achieved thanks to “the articulated work between all the players in the industry.”

“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,” Santoro said.

In this common effort since 2020, and as part of the reactivation plan led by the Colombian Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, ProColombia worked on the safe reactivation of the cruises 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.

“Together, with the National and local government and other authorities, we have been preparing for months so that Cartagena, the main destination in terms of cruises in Colombia, complies with all the specific protocols that follow the safety of passengers and crew, but that also assure safe environments for Cartagena and its citizens. From the Cartagena de Indias Cruise Terminal we have trained personnel and facilities in which biosafety is guaranteed and prioritized,” said Alfonso Salas Trujillo, general manager of the Port of Cartagena Group.

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