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They’re working on “island time” across the Caribbean to get hurricane-damaged ports of call open again for business.
While the expression is “one of those delightful double entendres,” in this case it means time well spent in a place that refreshes the spirit and cleanses the soul.
That’s the situation after the devastating blows by two hurricanes but the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) reports the “vast majority of Caribbean ports are open and welcoming tens of thousands of daily cruise passengers.”
|Life’s still a beach at most places across the Caribbean including Magens Bay. (Jim Fox photo)|
More than 80 ports are open while four – St. Croix, San Juan, St. Martin and St. Thomas – were “most seriously affected” and are the most significant to popular cruise itineraries.
It’s in everyone’s best interests to get things back to somewhat normal across the region as the Caribbean is the world’s leading cruise destination.
Recovery is happening very quickly due to widespread efforts and the people there, said Arnold Donald, chair of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and ceo of Carnival Corp.Cruising is vital to the places visited as tourism is the top generator of employment and businesses along with very lucrative port charges and taxes paid through cruise fares.
As well, many of the newest megaships were built specifically for cruises there.
More than 30-million people cruise the Caribbean annually, accounting for 33.7 per cent of the global deployment capacity market share.
The destination is also showing 42 per-cent in growth by North American travellers.
FCCA represents 18 cruise lines with more than 100 vessels in Floridian, Caribbean and Latin American waters.
Cruise lines say they won’t return to an island until the infrastructure, beaches and shore excursions are restored to provide a “guest-satisfying” experience.
|The Caribbean Princess under a full moon in better days in port at San Juan. (Barbara Fox photo)|
The four ports are expected to be welcoming guests by the end of next month while San Juan, Puerto Rico has reopened to homeport Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas.
The ship’s initial shore excursions are around the city core because elsewhere including the El Yunque rainforest popular tourist attraction were seriously damaged.
St. Thomas, a big duty-free shopping port and beach day at Magens Bay, will see a return of Royal Caribbean ships on Nov. 10.
With so many islands in the Caribbean, cruise lines in the meantime have changed their itineraries.
This has included using three alternative ports in Jamaica – Falmouth, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay – as well as Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico, and Belize and Roatan.
There are also those visits in the Eastern Caribbean such as Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, St. Kitts and St. Lucia, while the “private islands” such as Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas have remained open.
“The Caribbean islands and destinations throughout the Americas rely on tourism and the cruise industry is dedicated to continuing to bring vacationers to these beautiful areas,” said Cindy D’Aoust, CLIA president and ceo.
“I’m proud of the collective efforts of CLIA members along with the industry associations, providing more than $30 million (U.S.) in financial resources, temporary housing, transporting families and pets as well as a variety of supplies to people in need,” she added.
A map of the Caribbean showing ports that are open
Check it out
FCCA has launched a website – CaribbeanIsOpen.com – to “generate awareness that the majority of Caribbean destinations are operating normally, unhindered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” said president Michele Paige.
She calls it an “invaluable resource” for destinations and cruise lines to spread information to cruise travellers that “most of the unparalleled experiences in the Caribbean are operating normally.”
The site provides information, testimonials, questions and answers, a map of open destinations and more, she added.
(c) Text and photos -- Jim and Barb Fox
Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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