ROYAL Caribbean International, the second largest cruise line in the world, has indicated that it will recommence limited operations to Jamaica in November.
The cruise line's senior leadership team made the disclosure during a meeting with Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett and other tourism officials in Miami, Florida, recently.
The senior executives added that once a number of logistical matters – some of which are outside Jamaica's remit - are effectively resolved, they will be in a position to significantly boost cruises to Jamaica bringing in tens of thousands of fully vaccinated cruise visitors.
They also reiterated their very strong desire to employ thousands of Jamaicans across a wide range of job functions and are awaiting Government's regulatory amendments to make it a reality.
In response, Bartlett expressed delight that Royal Caribbean will return to Jamaica after more than 18 months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We have a few pressing matters to resolve forthwith so that they can boost cruises to Jamaica and in return boost the economic and social livelihoods of thousands of Jamaicans who depend directly and indirectly on the cruise industry.
“Beyond that the Government will move speedily in facilitating the cruise line's efforts to employ thousands of Jamaicans, for what are truly exciting job opportunities. Our people are in demand and the cruise lines are fully cognisant of this,” said Bartlett.
The new developments come following another meeting led by Bartlett with Carnival Corporation Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald and other senior company executives of the cruise line – the largest in the world – in Miami, where they indicated that 110 or more cruises, with more than 200,000 fully vaccinated visitors, are scheduled for Jamaica over a few months.
That target is subject to continued close collaboration between Jamaican authorities and Carnival on logistics.
The Royal Caribbean International engagement was one of a series of meetings with several travel industry leaders, including major airlines and investors, across Jamaica's largest source markets, the United States and Canada.
This is being done to drive increased arrivals to the destination in the coming weeks and months, as well as to cement further investment in the local tourism sector.
Bartlett was joined at the meetings by chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board John Lynch; director of tourism Donovan White; senior strategist in the tourism ministry Delano Seiveright; and deputy director of tourism for the Americas Donnie Dawson.
The cruise industry was among the worst affected by the pandemic, shutting the sector down for more than one year.
However, with the most robust health and safety protocols in the global travel industry, including fully vaccinated passengers and crews, the industry has slowly resumed operations to multiple destinations including Jamaica.