The Royal Caribbean cruise line will return to Mexico after more than a year of ceasing operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The port of Cozumel, in Quintana Roo, will become the bastion of the company's reactivation in Latin America, which already has plans to operate in the Mexican Pacific for the last quarter of the year.
The choice of Cozumel is no coincidence. The Caribbean island is one of the key destinations among its passengers, among whom there is already a strong optimism, mainly from the United States, driven by the progress in vaccination campaigns. Cozumel is a destination is one of the most important. When a person is choosing a tour of the Mexican Caribbean, it is a mandatory stop.
Cozumel has been the main gateway for cruise ships in Mexico. In 2019, it concentrated half of the little more than 9 million cruise passengers that entered the country, accumulating 4.5 million passengers. This indicator plummeted more than 75% during 2020, since only during the first quarter there were cruise ships in operation, and for 2021 the losses have been total, at least during the first half of the year.
The cruise industry has been the hardest hit of the tourism sector by the pandemic because while hotels and airlines have maintained or restarted operations, tourist's vessels maintain a very restricted operation because of its scheme, which combines long journeys with accommodation and visits to several cities in different countries.
Therefore, in the United States, cruise ships are receiving approvals from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in dribs and drabs, so that initial operations to Cozumel for U.S. passengers will sail from The Bahamas, a scenario that could change quickly.
The crew of its cruise ships will be fully vaccinated, and other measures will be taken such as the use of medical-grade products, an increase in personnel on board these areas, and an emphasis on ventilation of private and common spaces on board. Regarding the occupancies of the cruise ships, initially, they will not set sail at 100% capacity, but it all depends on the standards that each local government has where the vessels dock.