Mexico’s government intervenes after cruise ships denied entry to ports

Dec 29, 2021

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As the omicron COVID-19 variant continues to show its resistance to vaccines, a small number of breakthrough cases have emerged on cruise ships over the past week. As a result, of the hundreds of vessels currently sailing, a handful from several major lines — including Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America — were denied entry into Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and other ports.

The most recent ports to stop passengers — even ones who weren’t positive — from disembarking were Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, prompting the Mexican government to step in.

On Monday, Carnival Panorama, which is currently in the middle of a seven-night Mexican Riviera voyage from Long Beach near Los Angeles, was denied entry at Puerto Vallarta, according to passengers on the sailing. Those onboard say the ship had five ill passengers and about 100 positive crew as of Monday.

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A cruise map shows Carnival Panorama’s route skipping Mazatlan after it was turned away on Tuesday due to COVID-19 cases onboard. (Image courtesy of Cruisemapper.com)

The ship was also prevented from visiting Mazatlan Tuesday, which The Associated Press says caused the Mexican government to intervene.

Mexico’s Health Department said it will allow passengers who test negative to disembark, as long as ships follow proper World Health Organization protocols, including wearing masks, social distancing, hand-washing and sanitizing.

Translated, a joint statement from Mexico’s government and the country’s public health secretary says Mexico will receive cruise ships that request to dock and provide medical assistance to ill passengers who require it.

The decision came in time to allow Holland America’s Zuiderdam to call on the port of Guaymas on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

Zuiderdam, which is halfway through a 10-day cruise from San Diego, has about 2,000 passengers and crew onboard and reported that 30 — two passengers and 28 crew members — were affected. All are fully vaccinated and were either asymptomatic or showed only minor symptoms.

A cruise map shows Zuiderdam docked at Guaymas as planned on Tuesday after Mexico said it would allow cruise ships with COVID-19 cases to visit. (Image courtesy of Cruisemapper.com)

The latest outbreaks onboard ships have affected about 1% of their respective onboard populations, at least 90% of which are fully vaccinated per U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Mexico has been one of the most consistently lenient countries throughout the pandemic in terms of travel restrictions. Recently, the U.S. State Department upped its travel warning to “reconsider travel,” in part citing the nation’s high number of COVID-19 cases.

Zuiderdam is due to call on Topolobampo on Wednesday and Mazatlan on Thursday. The sailing is slated to conclude on Jan. 2 in San Diego. Carnival Panorama is scheduled to call on Cabo San Lucas Wednesday with a sea day Thursday before arriving back in Long Beach on Friday.

Featured photo by Ryan W Curley/Getty Images.

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