First cruise ship with tourists arrived in Golfito, Costa Rica after 17 months of closure
132 cruise passengers with full vaccination against Covid-19 arrived in the country from the Port of Balboa, Panama
With 132 passengers on board, the Star Breeze cruise ship of the American company Windstar Cruises arrived today at 5:45 am in Golfito, Puntarenas, marking the restart of the cruise tourism niche, paralyzed by the pandemic for 17 months.
The boat of approximately 13 tons, six decks and 159 meters in length (long) was warmly received at the Golfito dock with Costa Rican music, typical dances and the presence of the handicraft collective with identity "La Zona", who attended the first cruise passengers returning to our country.
The welcoming ceremony was attended by the Rector Minister of Tourism, Gustavo J. Segura Sancho; Juan Ramón Rivera, president of the Costa Rican Institute of Pacific Ports (INCOP); Davie Salazar, Executive Director of the Golfo Dulce Chamber of Tourism and Commerce; Candy Garro, General Manager of the Nautical Shipping Company; Victoria Hernández Mora, Minister of Economy and other authorities in the area.
“The reactivation of this niche reinforces the economic recovery in the coastal areas. Passengers who choose to disembark in Costa Rican ports carry out activities that generate foreign exchange for the destination and this chain will benefit carriers and guides, local tour operators and gastronomy, among other chains, ”said Minister Segura.
The last arrival of a cruise ship to Pacific waters occurred on March 11, 2020 and to Limón on March 16, 2020.
“As INCOP, we are very proud to welcome the first cruise and inaugurate the 2021-2022 Cruise Season , not only because we have not received this type of tourism for more than a year and a half, but also because this industry represents a great link in the economic reactivation and the generation of jobs in the province of Puntarenas, a basic element of the value chain of the commerce of this region, where hundreds of people work in the tourism sector in restaurants, hotels, tour operators and artisans, bringing with them a bit of economic relief in the midst of this pandemic ”, said Juan Ramón Rivera, executive president of INCOP.
Travelers on the Star Breeze, which arrived from the Port of Balboa, in Panama, will be able to enjoy small-group excursions in Golfito in the National Wildlife Refuge, as well as observe dolphins in Punta Encanto, actions that contribute to the progress in the zone.
“For the local economy and, above all, for the tourism sector, the arrival of the cruise ship is very important, it is a great opportunity to put the name of the country and Golfito in the eyes of the world and that is why we prepare to receive them considering the health standards and integrating different groups related to tourism such as businessmen, local artisans and cultural groups, as well as different institutions so that these cruise passengers have a wonderful experience and know how authentic our destination has ”, explained Davie Salazar, Executive Director of the Chamber of Tourism and Commerce of the Golfo Dulce.
Candy Garro, General Manager of the Nautical Shipping Agents Agency, mentioned that the reactivation generates multiple benefits to the cruise industry and the tourism sector in all its areas of attention and productive chains.
"We hope that it will be an opportunity for everyone to show how Costa Rica and, in a particular way, the sector, has prepared for this new stage that marks a trend in the way of doing tourism," said Garro.
After being in Golfito, tourists will make a stop on Friday, September 3 in Quepos to take walks through the Manuel Antonio National Park, visit the Esquipulas forest, take traditional cooking classes, canopy tours, sport fishing, horseback riding, among other outdoor activities.
During Saturday and Sunday, the cruise will be in Puerto Caldera, and visitors will take an excursion through the Espiritu Santo Coffee plantation, as well as a tour of the city of San José.
“We are optimistic about the arrival of this cruise in an area with valuable tourist potential and with an extraordinary desire to improve. Its people, whom I recognize for their great work, will now have one more opportunity to reactivate their economy, boost competitiveness to attract visitors, create sources of employment and promote entrepreneurship and productive chains ”, highlighted Victoria Hernández Mora, Minister of Economy and political coordinator for the Brunca Region.
Strict health protocols
Among the guidelines established for cruise passengers, Windstar Cruises, a shipping company that has traveled to Costa Rica since 1997, requires a complete vaccination certificate against Covid-19 for its crew and passengers without exception.
The company also requests and provides an antigen test to its crew and passengers which must be negative to board, they installed hospital grade HEPA filters and UV-C ultraviolet germicidal irradiation to filter and disinfect the air, in addition, they use electrostatic sprayers to disinfect all surfaces of the cruise ship.
The crew must undergo a PCR test seven days before traveling and quarantine during this period of time at their home or hotel until the day of the trip; The use of a mask is mandatory for them, except when they can maintain physical distance or are in the cabin.
Another of the measures adopted by the American company is to offer routes with 75% of the capacity of each vessel in order to maintain physical distance.
Costa Rica, for its part, allows the entry of cruise ships with passengers with the complete vaccination scheme against Covid-19 for 100% of the crew and 95% of the passengers of vaccination age.
The accepted vaccines are those authorized by the National Vaccination and Epidemiology Commission and the last dose of the vaccine must have been applied at least 14 days before sailing.
For the reception of cruise ships, in the Caribbean and Pacific ports, the Port Operation Protocol will be observed, endorsed by the Ministry of Health as established in the Presidential Directive 082-MP-S and prepared by the MOPT, INCOP, JAPDEVA ICT, the Costa Rican Cruise Industry Association, the Limón Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism and Nautica Shipping Agents Costa Rica.