(1:35 p.m. EDT) -- The Cayman Islands has reopened to cruise ships for the first time since the pandemic shutdown sailings two years ago, marking the return of one of the last major cruise port in the Caribbean.
In a tweet, Cayman Islands Gov. Martyn Keith Roper called the return of cruises "a significant milestone for Cayman’s tourism industry.
"I am grateful for the opportunities and return of livelihood for many tourism workers who are dependent on this aspect of our tourism as we continue to gradually ease regulations and open our borders whilst living with Covid-19," he said.
Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said the line was "delighted to return to Grand Cayman and to offer guests an opportunity to experience all of this port’s beauty once again. On behalf of Carnival, I would like to personally thank all our partners in Grand Cayman for working with us to make this opportunity possible."
A total of 21 cruises from Disney, Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises and Princess Cruises are scheduled to call on Grand Cayman through April 17, according to the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.
The cruise calls mark the beginning of a phased resumption of cruise travel announced by government officials at the end of February.
During the first phase of reopening, set to last four weeks, cruise ship calling on Grand Cayman can only carry up to 40% of their standard capacity, and no more than 75,000 passengers will be allowed in port at one time.
All passengers coming ashore in Grand Cayman must be fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated children under the age of 12 can only disembark when accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult.
Cruise safety protocols and capacity limits will be assessed and reviewed over the next month as the ships return, Cayman officials said.