TREND: Cruise ships will return to Mexico when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifts its No Sail Order on October 31, 2020. Cruise ports on the Mexican Caribbean (Cozumel and Mahahual) will open before ones in Mexico’s Pacific coast. Authorities and members of the sailing industry have updated their health protocols for safe travel.
•The pandemic disrupted cruising immediately; it is slowly coming back. The CDC director issued a No Sail Order on March 14, 2020, which the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) readily accepted. Authorities extended the measure thrice before allowing the industries activity to resume come November. Response plans are in place for protecting the crew, travelers, and the public.
•CLIA announced its Core Elements of Health Protocols in September. Authorities, public-health experts, and scientists participated in the design of these measures. The rules should not feel unfamiliar to travelers because they mirror others in their places of origin. Among the most stringent protocols are Covid-19 testing for all passengers before boarding the ship, mandatory mask-wearing, and social distancing while on the vessel and during excursions. Take into account that operators may deny passengers to board again if they do not follow the prescribed health norms. Companies have also developed new ventilation, filtration, and other air management procedures for travel. Additionally, ships now have improved medical plans, spaces, and personnel to isolate and tend to possible outbreaks.
•Mexico is the cruising industry’s darling. Before the pandemic, Cozumel was its third most popular cruise destination in the world. (Read our previous coverage here) The number of travelers by air to places like Cancún also had a jump last month, pointing to an integrated recovery of services for visitors in the Yucatán Peninsula. The Mexican Ministry of Tourism issued a press release on September 30. It claimed that approximately 3.1 million visitors would arrive in Mexico by cruise ship by the end of the year, compared to 9 million in 2019. Cozumel and Mahahual will be the first destinations to receive cruise ships. Simultaneously, the Mexican Cruising Association has not confirmed its expectations of boats arriving in the Pacific Coast ports.
•The Mexican tourist industry collaborates extensively with authorities and companies in other countries. Travelers trust results from this international cooperation. For example, American and Canadian tourists feel sure about air travel if flights last for four and a half hours or less, according to the Ministry of Tourism´s press release. At least 22 Mexican destinations, including Cancún, Los Cabos, Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta, meet the criteria. Ensuring safety and health protocols in embarkment points and other ports of call could translate into more confidence in the sailing industry.
TAKEAWAY: November will be critical for the tourism sector in Mexico. Cruising will complement the country’s steady recovery of visitors. Protocols in Mexican tourist destinations meet strict international guidelines, with the Ministries of Tourism and Health working with the industry in their design. Local authorities in Cozumel and Mahahual have yet to announce additional health measures for disembarking passengers. Take into account that rules may vary by destination. Still, the operations of cruise companies and airlines depend on the CDC’s recommendations and observations. If booking travel by ship, keep in mind that restrictions or reprogramming of departure dates may happen without advance notice.
* Spotlight by Sergio Mendoza, Senior Consultant at Riskop, a consulting firm focused on strategic intelligence and risk mitigation for investors and decision-makers in complex sociopolitical environments. It is located in Monterrey, Mexico. Twitter: @RiskopMx