Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning 2022

4 0 F rom swimming with pigs off the coast of Great Exuma in The Bahamas, to white-water rafting and rum tasting in Jamaica, diving and snorkelling in the Lesser Antilles, enjoying exclusive shopping and dining opportunities in St. Barts, and much more – the Caribbean offers an array of bucket-list experiences for cruise guests of all ages. Each year, millions of passengers embark on Caribbean cruises from Florida, USA, eager to explore the diverse destination and experience these activities for themselves. However, the renowned cruise capital of the world’s booming cruise industry flatlined after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a no-sail order on 14 March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The order remained in place until 20 October, when it was replaced by a conditional sailing order, which introduced requirements for cruise lines to sail with at least 95 per cent of people vaccinated or perform test cruises to demonstrate safety procedures. In April 2021, Florida Governor Rob DeSantis filed a lawsuit against the CDC for what he deemed to be “obstructionist” regulations, claiming that the test cruises would be prohibitively expensive and that vaccine rules were discriminatory to those who did not qualify for vaccinations. Following several months of legal battles, the United States Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit Court determined on 23 July that cruise lines could resume operations immediately and consider the CDC rules as recommendations. “I’m glad to see the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reverse its prior decision and free the cruise lines from unlawful CDC mandates, which effectively mothballed the industry for more than a year,” said DeSantis. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and its cruise line members have commended DeSantis for his leadership and support of the cruise industry, noting that it had “facilitated a path to resumption of cruises throughout the USA”. “Governor DeSantis has been fighting for the cruise industry, arguing against the federal government bureaucracy that singled out the industry for unfair, unscientific, devastating restrictions,” says Christina Pushaw, press secretary for the executive office of DeSantis. “The cruise industry is essential to Florida’s thriving economy. More than 159,000 people in Florida work in the cruise industry, and many more make a living from the numerous businesses that provide products and services to cruise ships and passengers.” Fortunes are changing in Florida. Tourism marketing corporation VisitFlorida estimates that tourism in the state was 223.4 per cent higher in the second quarter of 2021 than during the same three-month period in 2020. In addition, domestic travel between 1 April and 30 June 2021 was six percent higher than in the same period of 2019, which was a record year. “Domestic tourism in Florida is doing really well and we’re seeing highoccupancy levels in accommodations across the state,” says Dana Young, CEO of VisitFlorida. “Internationally, there is a strong demand for Florida holidays. Rather than cancelling, a lot of people have been moving their holidays to later dates. Talking to our The burgeoning Florida-Caribbean industry has struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is now firmly back on track towards a rapid recovery thanks to the tireless efforts of the cruise lines, ports, destinations and other key stakeholders. Rebecca Gibson reports The great cruise comeback FEATURE: FLORIDA- CARIBBEAN CRUI S ING