Cruise lines aid Caribbean recovery

Reports say Caribbean cruise lines are sending ships and cash to aid Caribbean countries in their recovery efforts in the wake of the passage of Hurricane Irma.

Royal Caribbean International’s cruise ships made humanitarian aid trips last week to the hard-hit islands of St. Martin and St. Thomas, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It said the Majesty of the Seas on Monday was scheduled to sail to both destinations. As a result, the cruise line pushed back the departure of a Bahamas cruise until Tuesday and shortened it to three days, stopping at Nassau, Bahamas, and the line’s private island of Cococay.

“We are sorry for the impact that the storm has had on your vacation, and know you support us in helping those in urgent need,” the company told passengers on its website, offering a partial refund and/or credit for a future cruise.

In addition, Royal Caribbean will match US$1 million in donations to Hurricane Irma relief efforts, the Times said.

It said Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison pledged an immediate donation of US$2.5 million to relief charities from his family’s foundation.

In addition, the company’s philanthropic Carnival Foundation and the Miami Heat Charitable Fund — Arison owns the Miami basketball team — pledged to raise a combined US$5 million for relief and recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma. Arison’s family foundation will match that amount too, the Times said. The company owns Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Costa and other lines.

In addition, the Times said Carnival’s cruises over the next several weeks will be bringing much-needed items — water, food, clothing, toiletries and medical supplies — directly or indirectly to destinations wrecked by Irma, including Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos, St. Martin, St. Thomas and Barbuda.

Norwegian Cruise Line chief executive officer, Andy Stuart, last Friday greeted almost 1,000 people rescued from St. Thomas aboard the Norwegian Sky and brought to Miami, the Times noted.

“The question wasn’t if we could go, but how fast we could get there.” Stuart said on the line’s Facebook page.

Meantime, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s TS Kennedy is being readied for another mission during this year’s busy and damaging hurricane season, according to the Cape Cod Times.

It said the ship is expected to travel from Texas, where it has been helping house US Federal Emergency Management Agency workers in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to help during the response to Hurricane Maria.

Hurricane Maria was on a track to wallop Puerto Rico on Wednesday “with a force and violence that we haven’t seen for several generations,” the territory’s governor said.

Hurricane Maria smashed into Dominica with 160 mph winds, ripping the roof off even the prime minister’s residence and causing what he called “mind-boggling” devastation Tuesday as it plunged into a Caribbean region already ravaged by Hurricane Irma, the Cape Cod Times noted.

“So far, the winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with,” Skerrit wrote on his Facebook page. “The roof to my own official residence was among the first to go.”

“We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds,” he added in appealing for international aid.

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