Comment: Cruise should be commended for relief efforts

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After the death and destruction caused by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean recently, Sam Ballard praises the industry’s speedy and invaluable response


The cruise industry is so often the subject of vitriol that it is curious to see what happens when it delivers something so heartfelt as its Hurricane Irma relief efforts.

In cities like Venice cruise ships have becomes representations of mass tourism. This is despite cruise representing just five per cent of the total number of tourists in the city. It’s just easy to use a cruise ship looming over the ancient city to illustrate a problem that is in fact pretty complex.

So, when it came to Hurricane Irma, which killed more than 80 people and caused horrendous damage to northeastern Caribbean Islands such as Cape Verde, the Greater Antilles, Cuba and the Bahamas as well as Miami, it is worth noting the relief efforts made by the industry.

Carnival Corporation, the biggest cruise company in the world, and the Miami Heat basketball team, which has strong links to the company’s chairman Micky Arison, donated up to $2.5 million each to Direct Relief, Unicef and United Way of Miami-Dade County to support relief efforts. That money was matched by the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation Pledge, making almost $10 million donated to relief efforts.

The power that tourism, and in this case specifically cruise companies, have as a force to do good around the world should not be underestimated

Royal Caribbean donated supplies to the islands most affected by the hurricane and used its ships to help out with 1,700 evacuations on ravaged islands such as St Thomas and St Martin. The line managed to provide 17,000 gallons of water and more than 20 pallets of medical supplies. The line also announced that it would match up to $1 million of donations made through its site.

Norwegian Cruise Line made similar levels of effort in their own relief effort. The line’s president & CEO, Andy Stuart, summed up the thoughts of many in the industry when he said: “In our business, we work hard every day to create moments that will become lifelong treasured memories for our guests. But this was an opportunity to do so much more than that, and our company’s leadership team, led by president & CEO Frank Del Rio, didn’t hesitate for a moment when asked for help. The question wasn’t if we could go, but how fast we could get there. In my 30 years at Norwegian Cruise Line, it was my proudest moment.”

The power that tourism, and in this case specifically cruise companies, have as a force to do good around the world should not be underestimated. From empowering local communities through their continued investment and bringing tourists to their shores. However, in the case of Hurricane Irma the cruise lines deployed their most precious assets – ships and economic power – to help.

Well done to all those who took part in relief efforts.

Sam Ballard

Sam Ballard is the publisher of CRUISE ADVISER and has been writing about the cruise industry for a number of years. His CV includes the likes of shipping magazine International Cruise & Ferry Review and the digital publication Cruise News. He can be contacted on:sam@cruise-adviser.com.

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