Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) say they will resume calls to the Bahamas as early as this week after parts of the Caribbean archipelago were ravaged by Hurricane Dorian.
Carnival said it would make 41 calls to Nassau, Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays throughout the rest of September, stressing the islands were “eagerly awaiting cruise guests” after the storm swept across Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands last week, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
NCL will resume calls to the Bahamas and its private island Great Stirrup Cay this week, while Royal Caribbean’s private island Perfect Day at CocoCay reopened on Saturday (7 September).
All three lines have also reiterated their commitments to providing aid and financial support to the people of the Bahamas most severely affected by Hurricane Dorian.
Carnival, together with the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation, has pledged $2 million funding and “in-kind support” for hurricane relief efforts.
Its relief shipments started to arrive in the Bahamas last week, with Carnival Pride and Carnival Liberty due to drop off supplies in Freeport on Thursday and Friday this week (12-13 September).
“Thank you to all who have joined us to support our friends in the Bahamas with donations,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.
“Our work to assist and support continues. As our ships and our guests return to Bahamian ports of call, our visits will make sure our guests experience the beauty of the Bahamas, and that the economy moves forward and jobs will be supported.”
Meanwhile, NCL’s Hope Starts Here hurricane relief campaign, in partnership with disaster relief organisation All Hands and Hearts, has also hit $2 million.
The funds will assist the clean-up operation, while also supporting rebuilding community infrastructure such as houses and schools.
NCL said Great Stirrup Cay suffered “minimal beach erosion” as a result of Dorian, which has already been restored.
President and chief executive Frank Del Rio said the response to Hope Starts Here had been overwhelming, added: “We understand tourism represents a significant portion of the Bahamas’ annual GDP and we are actively involved in helping our neighbours get back on their feet by returning to the islands and providing them with the supplies necessary to rebuild along with the needed economic support that tourism brings.”
Norwegian Breakaway has already delivered hurricane relief supplies, while NCL says it will continue to drop off supplies on a weekly basis using Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun to support those living in shelters.
Erik Dyson, chief executive of All Hands and Hearts, said the devastation wrought by Dorian was “unprecedented”.
Royal said while CocoCay was spared destruction by Dorian, the storm left debris, pulled up trees and washed away sand and bricks. “We started working on repairs as quickly as possible, but we kindly ask you ’mind our dust’ as we continue out recovery efforts,” said the line in a statement to passengers.
The line has pledged $1 million to rebuilding efforts, and will deliver more than 20,000 meals a day, as well as water, medical supplies, generators and “other necessities”. Empress of the Seas departed PortMiami with Royal’s first aid consignment last week, with Navigator of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas all set to make deliveries to Freeport.
Royal will also match guest and employee donations to the Pan American Development Foundation dollar for dollar, up to $500,000.
The Caribbean Tourism Organisation has relaunched its relief fund, while Caribbean Airlines on Sunday (8 September) embarked on its own relief efforts in partnership with the Foundation for the Enhancement of Enrichment of Life.
The Foreign Office is advising against all travel to Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands. The UK government has pledged an initial £1.5 million towards relief efforts.
Navy ship RFA Mounts Bay will deliver critical aid supplies while supporting the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency’s efforts to coordinate the international response to Dorian.