12 August, 2020

Cruise Industry Responds to Crisis in Caribbean

Help in Caribbean Crises

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Dorian wreaked havoc in the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama as it gusted through homes and infra structure scarring and battering the islands and their people. The storm, that made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, lingered in the area for days. The pictures and individual stories of people who lost everything invaded our homes through television news, electronic devices and newspapers. As cruise visitors should we be expected to help and support the relief effort? I know my consciousness was pricked at the images I witnessed, but I have yet to make a tangible contribution to the relief effort.

What of the cruise industry as a whole and their contribution to the disaster? Despite a sometimes difficult and contentious relationship with the Bahamian people based on the environmental legacy of cruise ships and their passenger, and their frequent use of the Bahamas, cruise ships were notable first responders. Even so, environmental activists and cruise industry critics argue more should have been done from an industry that, overall, earns billions of pounds a year from use of the Bahamas as a key destination in Caribbean itineraries. I am aware of the counter argument that cruise passengers, and the tourism industry as a whole, are key contributors to the overall income of the Bahamas.

The first cruise line to respond the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line dispatched the Grand Celebration from the Port of Palm Beach to ferry relief supplies, first responders, stranded Bahamian nationals and disaster relief volunteers to Freeport. The vessel evacuated the needy and then returned, with supplies that the company had collected at its Florida base, to evacuate individuals to the mainland.

Royal Caribbean has donated a million dollars and is matching employee and guest donations to the Pan American Development Foundation for hurricane relief. The company is also loading and transporting generator, water and other goods aboard its ships as well as staff to help with the relief effort.

Other cruise lines including Carnival, MSC and Disney have all made notable contributions to the stricken Bahaman islands and their people.

As we enjoy sailing the world, taking time out and relaxing in comfort and luxury do we owe a debt to the countries we visit? I do not pretend to have an answer but would be interested in sharing readers’ thoughts and opinions.  

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