After the destructive storm, Hurricane Irma, hit Florida on the 10th September, it has been estimated that 1.2 million people on the Caribbean islands have been affected.
A Florida governor has since declared the storm ‘life-threatening; it has brought the state to a standstill and forced a number of cruise lines to cancel and re-schedule cruises in the surrounding area.
Several brands are now releasing updates on their itineraries with the hope to return to normal operations, although a number of the busiest ports of call in the region appear to be out of service for weeks, if not months.
Among these are the French/Dutch island of St. Martin/St. Maarten, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. St. Thomas and St. Maarten in particular are mainstays of many eastern Caribbean cruise vacations.
Roger Blum, principal at Cruise & Port Advisors, a Miami consulting firm, said that in addition to being ‘incredibly popular’ destinations, they are at a strategic spot: ‘They’re pretty much as far as you can get on a seven-day cruise from Florida.’
Meawhile, other destinations to the south that escaped Hurricane Irma are too far to travel for a week-long voyage.
It will also substitute St. Kitts for St. Thomas and St. Maarten on Allure of the Seas voyages, and St. Kitts for St. Thomas on Harmony of the Seas voyages.
While most cruise lines visit the affected islands on itineraries that start and end in Florida, several small-ship cruise lines fly passengers to the Caribbean to begin their voyages there.
SeaDream Yacht Club turns some of its cruises in Marigot, St. Martin. Windstar uses St. Maarten, San Juan and Bridgetown, Barbados, however neither line has announced a decision about how to proceed with the 2017-18 Caribbean season.
It has not been forecast how long reconstruction will take in ports such as Key West or St. Thomas, where damage assessment is ongoing.
Blum said the cruise infrastructure will be the focus of early rebuilding efforts due to the the revenue the damaged ports provide- he stated that ‘the tougher comeback is for the hotels’.
Another question mark is the cruise industry’s fragile toehold in Havana, which has recently been generating new excitement for Caribbean cruising.
At least a half-dozen cruise lines have published itineraries that include Havana where Hurricane Irma caused fatalities, collapsed buildings and severe flooding.
While some ports like Havana took direct hits, others to the east of Florida are already open such as the Bahamas which got less damage than many had feared and cruise lines scheduled shortened cruises that departed September 13th and 14th to Nassau and Freeport.
Grand Turk, where Carnival Cruises has a private destination, has reopened whilst the cruise line’s port at Amber Cove on the north side of the Dominican Republic is reported to be in good condition.
Blum continued to state there should not be too much competition in the western Caribbean for ship berths through November as many ships are in Europe or elsewhere at this time of year.
However, he furthered that should the eastern Caribbean remain offline through the winter, congestion will be an issue.
A $2.5 million donation to aid those impacted is to be made by The Walt Disney Company, which will help to fund the response and recovery efforts of the American Red Cross, UNICEF, Save the Children, and other non-profit organisations.
Chairman and chief executive Robert Iger said: ‘As millions of people now face the daunting challenge of putting their lives and communities back together in the wake of these historic hurricanes, they need our help.’
What are your thoughts? Are cruise lines taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of their passengers? Were you due to sail through the Caribbean post-Hurricane Irma? Leave us your comments below.
Every Updated Itinerary You Need To Know Post-Hurricane Irma After Hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean (Category 5) has ripped through the Caribbean, cruise itineraries have been seriously altered…