The luxury liner Star Breeze arrived in Golfito on Thursday morning, representing the first passenger-carrying cruise ship to make a port of call in Costa Rica in 17 months.
Star Breeze docked in Golfito at 5:45 a.m. with 132 vaccinated passengers. It will later make stops in Quepos and Puerto Caldera.
It’s the first regular cruise arrival to Costa Rica since March 16, 2020.
“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 business for the destination,” said Gustavo Segura, Tourism Minister.
In Golfito, tourists will visit the Golfito National Wildlife Refuge or go on dolphin-watching excursions to Punta Encanto.
Friday in Quepos, passengers can explore Manuel Antonio National Park, enjoy canopy tours, take cooking classes or opt for other open-air activities.
This weekend in Caldera, guests will experience a coffee farm as part of an overland trip to San José.
“The arrival of this cruise fills us with optimism,” said Victoria Hernández Mora, the region’s Economy Minister.
As of September 1, Costa Rica is welcoming cruise ships in which 100% of the crew have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and at least 95% of passengers of vaccination age have received their shots.
The Star Breeze is carrying fully vaccinated passengers and crew, and they also required a negative Covid-19 test to board.
The Tourism Board has said nine cruise lines have incorporated Costa Rica into their 2021-22 cruise season itineraries: Windstar, Lindblad, Sea Cloud, Seabourn Quest, Celebrity Millennium, Carnival Pride, Crown Princess, Diamond Princess and Seven Seas Mariner.
Five of those cruise lines would arrive in Limón, and the rest to Pacific ports.
“In the first phase of this reopening, most of the cruise ships are those with lower passenger capacity and of high luxury, such as the Lindbland (National Geographic Expeditions),” Segura explained in July.
During the 2019-2020 season, nearly 240,000 cruise passengers arrived in Costa Rica on 197 ships, according to ICT data. Each of those visitors spent about $135 per day when in Costa Rica.
The 2020-21 season was canceled due to the pandemic, though some cruises made stops in Costa Rica to disembark crew.