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Star Breeze is the first cruise ship to arrive in Colombia after 17 months. Photo: Twitter @PuertoCTG
Star Breeze is the first cruise ship to arrive in Colombia after 17 months. Photo: Twitter @PuertoCTG

First cruise ship arrives to Colombia after 17 months

Star Breeze is the first cruise to dock in Colombia after a long COVID-19 shutdown.

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With 312 passengers and 164 crew members, the Star Breeze cruise ship arrived in Cartagena on Tuesday, Aug. 24, providing a light in the darkness to an industry that was long closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
The Star Breeze cruise ship is part of the luxury shipping company Windstar Cruises, which operates in Europe, South Pacific, the Caribbean and Central America. It is the first ship that docks in the port after a year and a half not receiving tourists.  
 
Its arrival has raised the expectations of citizens who seek to continue reactivating the economy of the city and the country in general. According to data from the Business Research and Economic Advisor (BREA) in 2018, the city would benefit economically to the tune of almost $34 million with the reopening of its cruise terminal. These revenues are rooted in different commercial activities.
 
The city Mayor, William Dau, said he was "very happy" over the arrival of the first cruise ship.
 
Likewise, the Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister, María Ximena Lombana, mentioned that "we continue working for the safe economic reactivation of the country and its tourism sector."
Gilberto Salcedo, Tourism vice president of Procolombia, highlighted that for the 2021-2022 season "26 cruise lines will arrive in Cartagena."
 
"This is equivalent to a recovery of 57% of what we had in the pre-pandemic period," he said.
 
So far, 10 cruise lines have confirmed visits to the city: Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, HollandAmerica, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Aida Cruises, MSC Cruises, Marella Cruises, Windstar Cruises and Regent Seven Seas.
 
Biosafety Protocols 
The arrival of the first cruise ship occurred under the approval of the biosafety protocol issued by the country's Ministry of Health. 
 
"The biosafety protocols that cruise ships in Cartagena bring have not been seen in any other sector, vaccination is required for 95% of the passengers, 98% of the crew and in addition to that, a negative COVID-19 test is required for boarding and tests are applied to 100% of the people entering the cruise," said María Emilia Bonillas, coordinator of the Cartagena Cruise Terminal. 
 
In addition, social distancing, filling out health forms before boarding, complying with health declarations, mandatory use of masks, taking temperature daily, cabins reserved for isolation, rooms on board to attend passengers in critical condition, cleaning and disinfection protocols, hand washing, signage, strict compliance with the protocols on land at ports of call, among others, are also mandatory on the cruise.
 
In the United States
At the beginning of August, Norwegian reopened its voyages from the United States with the departure of a cruise ship to Alaska with all its crew and passengers vaccinated. Meanwhile, the resumption in Miami, the "cruise capital of the world," has been halted due to a fight with the state over the requirement of vaccination certificates to allow boarding. 
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