That advisory from the CDC was issued today after six ships docked in Belize. Four of them came to Belize City while two stopped in Harvest Caye. And the Fort Street Tourism Village was the busiest it's been since the start of the pandemic with throngs of tourists going on tours and a few doing the city walkabout, buying from vendors and getting their hair braided.

And today we stopped by the Fort George Tourism Zone to get a feel for what it was like for the tour guides and operators, and to ask the tourists, why travel in a pandemic? Courtney Menzies has that story:

Six cruise ships set sail for Belize this morning making today the largest cruise day we've had since the start of the pandemic. Four of them - Celebrity Apex, Carnival Pride, Carnival Dream, and Carnival Breeze docked near Belize City and the other two - Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Breakaway went to Harvest Caye in the south. And when those cruise cakes were cut, everyone got a slice.

Jimmy Robinson - President, Belize City Tour Operators And Workers Association
"It's like Christmas really, we haven't seen a day like this in a long time so I think everybody is going home today with some money to celebrate the New Year and make the family be happy. Of course we have a little odds and ends but once we are making money everybody is happy so happy it's smiles, smiles, and a lot of smiles."

Courtney Menzies
"Does this give you hope for the next cruise tourism season next year?"

Jimmy Robinson
"Definitely it gives us a lot of hope, finances is coming into the country, we're internationalizing Belize more on the world marketing but at the same time we're not dropping our guard especially with the new variant of the COVID virus so we're remaining focus, sanitizing, the distancing and so forth, therefore, doing such both us and our guests are safe."

Wayne Humesm - Tour Guide
"Today since the cruise tourism started to come back to Belize, today is like what you call the largest visitation of ships into our ports."

Courtney Menzies
"And when you talk to your other fellow tour guides and operators, what's the sentiment, because I know you guys were really struggling at the start of the pandemic so what's the sentiment now?"

Wayne Humesm
"Some of us are still struggling because COVID actually did a lot on the world including the country of Belize including tour guide, operators, and other small vendors, hair braiders, and many other people in the tourism sector. So we are still struggling, we still like you said, we still stretching our hands out to try and get that help that we need to actually fix ourselves that we may...take our feet off the ground, we need that start, that push."

And tourists are happy to give that push despite the looming threat of the Omicron variant. A few of them told us today why they chose one of the riskiest forms of tourism.

Michelle - Cruise Tourist
"We really miss traveling and we came on a cruise ship to see the lovely island of Belize and to meet the beautiful people so we walked around your fabulous city and now we're just enjoying getting a massage and getting our hair done and so we appreciate just being here and having the country open to us. I think everybody knows if they've taken the proper precautions and you just have to know that personally I'm vaccinated and I wear my masks so that we do the right things when we're being respectful of you the locals and any other people in places that we visit."

Courtney Menzies
"How many times have you been here?"

Debbie & Kenny Fitzgerald - Cruise Tourists
"Probably like 8. We like Belize."

Courtney Menzies
"What's your favorite thing about it?"

Debbie & Kenny Fitzgerald
"The Casinos. We have some favorite eating places just down here, we always eat here when we come, it's good food. We've had all our shots and everything and we haven't had any trouble with COVID, we just love traveling, we've been on like fifty cruises and so when they opened the cruises up we decided to come and scheduled this one in Belize."

Maya Perez - Cruise Tourist
"I love learning about new cultures and having new experiences and that's the reason we took the train because we thought we were gonna see more, learn more about the history and culture and we did so I thought it was a really awesome tour."

Courtney Menzies
"Is this your first time here?"

Maya Perez
"It is my second time here. The first time I came we went to zip line and a cave tour."

Courtney Menzies
"So what's your favorite thing about Belize?"

Maya Perez
"Beautiful, it's a beautiful country and I just feel like I'm at home. I am a school teacher, and I work every single day and life is very short, I feel as though as long as we are safe we should take the opportunity to live our lives and also to benefit the other countries because they said that tourism is important for the economy."

Herman & Nobie Scott - Cruise Tourists
"We enjoyed ourselves it's the first time we've been here, it's our third cruise but the first time coming here."

Courtney Menzies
"So what did you like about it?"

Herman & Nobie Scott
"I like the culture, I like the people, we like some of the food and it was wonderful."

Courtney Menzies
"Why did you decide to go on a cruise ship during the pandemic?"

Herman & Nobie Scott
"My wife, she came up with the cruise thing. (laughs). She said the cruise, I gotta go."

Courtney Menzies
"But you guys are obviously being safe and whatnot."

Herman & Nobie Scott
"Yes, we've done our COVID testing, we've had our shots, so I felt confident and faithful that God will protect us and I'm a nurse so."

According to the Belize Tourism Board, over 14,000 passengers came to our shores from these ships.

Channel 7

Belize sees busiest Cruise Ship Day since the restart of Cruise

The Belize Tourism Board is excited to share that today the country received six cruise ships to our shores, marking it the busiest cruise day on our 2021 schedule of calls. Four Ships, including the Celebrity Apex, Carnival Pride, Carnival Dream, and Carnival Breeze, called to the Belize City FSTV port. Two ships, the Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Breakaway, called to Harvest Caye in southern Belize. In total, these ships brought to our shores over 14,000 passengers.

Today marks an important milestone, as the cruise sector continues to recover. Compared to pre-COVID figures, this December will see close to a 50% recovery rate, capping off an important incremental performance trend for port calls in Belize since July 2021. Promising projections from cruise lines indicate that cruise operations should return to full capacity by the winter season of 2022.

The Belize Tourism Board continues to work with cruise industry partners to ensure that all requisite health protocols are met and are improved as needed, to address concerns caused by the pandemic as the sector continues on its recovery path.