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Grand Turk could welcome near 14,000 Carnival cruisers in February

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Grand Turk Cruise Centre welcomes 1 million tourists a year; Covid-19 stopped cruising, now the site is desolate and the economy is devastated

#TurksandCaicos – December 11, 2020 – February Carnival Cruise Line has four cruises scheduled for an early February return to Grand Turk, and it could mean 13,874 visitors over four days as all of the voyages are fully booked.

It has been nine months since a cruise ship berthed at the Grand Turk Cruise Center; the impact of Covid-19 flat lined economic activity on the island which welcomes over one million cruise visitors each year.

Carnival’s schedule reveals the plan is to set sail with its Carnival Elation out of Port Canaveral with 2,040 passengers in a fully booked cruise.  Elation takes off on the four or five night cruise on February 1 and on the itinerary are Freeport and Nassau in The Bahamas; Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk.

A shell of its former self. This pool at Margarita Ville at the Grand Turk Cruise Centre would have been buzzing with guests. Today, it is desolate due to the No Sail Order which grounded the cruise industry as a result of the infectious, killer Covid-19 pandemic

Carnival Sunrise is also fully booked with just under 3,000 passengers.  It leaves the Port of Miami on February 4 with stops into Cozumel, Mexico; Key West, Florida; Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Nassau and Half Moon Cay in The Bahamas. Grand Turk is the third stop on the five-night cruise.

The cruise liner, Mardi Gras is the longest of the cruises which includes Grand Turk on its itinerary.  The seven-night trip also has the most passengers, 100 percent booked with 5,200 people on board.  Grand Turk appears to be the first stop on the sailing which leaves Port Canaveral on February 6. 

The final cruise for the capital island of the Turks and Caicos, according to the media report featuring early February sailings for Carnival is on February 7. Carnival Breeze sails from Port Canaveral on a seven-night voyage at capacity, which is 3,650 on the liner.

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Grand Turk, Nassau and Amber Cove are the ports listed for the February 7 cruise.

Carnival Cruise Line, as have other cruise companies is being made to comply with stringent standards for public health protocols given the horror stories of rampant infection, passengers and crew left medically destitute, denial of dockings by Covid-weary countries and the death toll as the pandemic mercilessly marred their industry.

The US Centers for Disease Control unveiled its ‘Framework for Conditional Sailing’ on October 30 and it was beyond expectation. 

Cruise companies are now scurrying to meet the standards which require on board laboratories, improved screening strategies of crew members and the CDC requires each cruise company to run a test cruise in order to be certified as fit to set sail from North America.

The CDC issued a No Sail Order on March 14, 2020. 

The last cruise ship to dock in Grand Turk was the Carnival Magic on March 6. It was a contentious finale after TCI Health Officials denied passengers’ disembarkation due to in-country rules related to the dreaded Covid-19 contagion.

Originally published in the Magnate; our brand new E-newspaper. Want it every morning? Contact Deandrea Hamilton: 649-231-9261. We are the News Leader.

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Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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