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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Puntarenas welcomes first cruise since start of pandemic

The Serenade of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, arrived Friday morning to the port of Puntarenas with 694 cruise passengers and 819 crew members. It represents the first vessel to arrive to the Central Pacific city since the start of the pandemic, and the second to dock in Costa Rica during this cruise season.

This ship has a capacity for 2,501 passengers but is operating at 30% capacity to maintain. It arrives on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and will continue its journey to Cartagena, Colombia.

During their stay in Costa Rica, cruise passengers can opt for tours to Monteverde, Esparza, La Guácima, Aranjuez de Puntarenas, San Ramón, Naranjo, Tárcoles, Sarchí and a tour of downtown Puntarenas.

“The arrival of the Serenade of the Seas, as well as the recent participation of the country in the most important cruise fair in the world — Seatrade Cruise Global 2021 in Miami, Florida — constitute encouraging messages to the coastal regions and to the hundreds of people who live from this tourism niche through its multiple chains, at a time when more positive numbers are predicted with a view to the start of the high season,” said Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura.

Since 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.

As a requirement to board, Royal Caribbean asks all passengers and crew to receive a full vaccine schedule completed at least 14 days before embarking.

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.

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