The aftermath of recent hurricanes left a string of cruise-port closures in its wake. But at least a few of the popular ports that suffered the most extensive damage — including St. Thomas and St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Maarten — are expected to open again for business in November, said the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) during a press call on Monday.
St. Thomas will begin welcoming cruise ships on Nov. 10. Royal Caribbean’s 3,114-passenger Adventure of the Seas will be the first to return to St. Thomas since two epic Category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, dealt the region a devastating one-two punch. Cruise company executives say the downtown area in Charlotte Amalie is in good shape.
“Welcoming cruise visitors back to the U.S. Virgin Islands is key to our economic recovery,” U.S. Virgin Islands tourism commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty said in a statement released Monday.
In other economic news, Carnival Cruise Lines resumed sailings to Puerto Rico on Oct. 15 — less than a month after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, knocking out power and phone service. And the Adventure of the Seas embarked Oct. 7 on a cruise from its capital, San Juan.
Michele Paige, FCCA president, told the media that a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign is being rolled out to urge travelers to book cruises to the region. Part of that campaign includes the launch on Monday of caribbeanisopen.com, a website designed to raise awareness about recovery efforts on the various islands. Paige said it’s crucial to connect with potential travelers and show them that most of the “unparalleled experiences” in the Caribbean are operating normally.
“The public perception is that the whole region was affected by storms,” Paige said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We expect 90 percent of the destinations to be welcoming guests in the next few weeks.”
According to Cruise Critic, many islands soon will be open for business, some within the next few weeks if they aren’t open already. They include Anguilla, Guadeloupe, St. Croix, St. John, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. Striving to reopen at a yet-to-be determined date are the Turks & Caicos and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. The ports that are closed indefinitely include Barbuda, Dominica, St. Barts and St. Martin.
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