#GrandTurk, Turks and Caicos Islands – March 10, 2020 — Carnival Cruise lines today said it is not true that there are plans to cancel all of its branded dockings into Grand Turk until May 2020; but this week three of its ships have been re-routed to another destination due to ongoing discussions about COVID-19 protocols with the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Magnetic Media was informed that the cruise line company and government are working through issues arising from COVID-19 public health measures which, on March 6, resulted in a tense standoff between the cruise company and the Turks and Caicos Islands Government, TCIG.
In a media statement, Carnival Cruise Line said: “While Carnival Cruise Line has elevated our screening and onboard protocols, we remain uncertain about Grand Turk policies pertaining to cruise ship visits. Consequently, we have decided to cancel the three calls at the island that were scheduled this week and calls for Carnival Magic, Carnival Horizon and Carnival Breeze are being replaced by a visit to Nassau. We are continuing our dialogue with Grand Turk officials and hope to have a resolution soon.”
Carnival Magic was denied permission to dock and two passengers described as being in need of emergency medical evacuation were also denied entry by TCI Health officials.
A media statement on Friday explained, “…it was immediately issued an official notice of refusal for docking by the EHD, and no passengers or crew were allowed to disembark. This refusal was as a result of the mandatory Maritime Declaration of Health (MDH) document, issued by the ship to health officials in TCI, which showed cases of influenza-like symptoms on board.”
Still, the medivacs did eventually did take place and two passengers disembarked the ship in Grand Turk and were “placed on an aircraft”.
“This matter is now under investigation by all relevant government agencies and the public will be updated as soon as full details of this matter become cleared,” informed TCIG.
Our media company understands that neither party was pleased with the chain of events and handling of the situation; it resulted in immediate changes to the Carnival cruise calls to Grand Turk.
Carnival Magic, which was due to dock on Sunday March 8, did not and it will be the same for the Carnival Breeze and the Carnival Horizon which will replace their calls to Grand Turk this week with Nassau in The Bahamas.
Carnival said, “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our guests and appreciate their continued patience and understanding. Our onboard teams are dedicated to delivering a great vacation.”
The Turks and Caicos Islands Government this morning held a COVID-19 press conference where it was explained legislation has been amended to encompass the new coronavirus. Mandatory reporting of the disease by medical centres and government has broader powers of quarantine – forcibly if necessary – of people exhibiting signs, symptoms or confirmed to have the highly contagious virus.
However, there was noticeably no mention of the controversy which erupted on Friday with Carnival Cruise Line despite the presence of the HE Anya Williams, Acting Governor; Hon Sharlene Robinson, the Premier and Finance Minister; Hon Edwin Astwood, the Health & Human Services Minister and Hon Ralph Higgs, the Tourism Minister all being present at the high-level news conference.