Back to the islands – an update on cruises to the Caribbean

Now that the devastating hurricane season has blown over, we assess the damage, with a map from P&O Cruises and an expert view from Clia’s Andy Harmer

There is a misconception about the Caribbean that needs to be corrected. While there is no denying that Hurricanes Irma and Maria inflicted major damage on the region last September, the extent to which the region as a whole was affected has been greatly exaggerated.

Given that the area covered by the Caribbean is almost three million square kilometres, it is hardly surprising to discover that most of the islands were nowhere near the path of the storms. As P&O’s map below illustrates, a vast swathe of the islands were either not affected, or are now back open for business.

Agents need to get this ‘open for business’ message across. We asked Andy Harmer, SVP membership and director of Clia UK & Ireland for an expert opinion.

“More than 146,000 Brits chose to take a Caribbean cruise in 2016. This comes as no surprise given the huge appeal of the incredible white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, not to mention each island’s own distinct and vibrant character that all adds to the charm of this truly idyllic part of the world.

“Sadly, however, with hurricane season hitting the region in September, a number of the islands and their inhabitants were tragically affected by the impact. As we are all too aware, tourism is a top driver for the islands’ economic well-being and cruise passengers contribute enormously towards this each time they visit. For this reason, it’s vital that we continue to support the Caribbean and, with so many of the islands open for business (nearly 100 ports – almost 90 per cent) and eager to provide visitors with the incredible holiday experiences that they’ve come to expect from the Caribbean – what better reason to start planning your next cruise holiday to the region?

“As an update on some of the main islands affected, Royal Caribbean International’s scheduled cruises to San Juan, St Maarten, and St Thomas are now running again as normal, including visits from Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas. Carnival Cruise Line has now returned to all those destinations as well and has already resumed calls to San Juan at the end of November and St Thomas and St Maarten in early January. Likewise, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Crystal Cruises, among others, have all of their Caribbean itineraries running as scheduled.

“In addition, the Tortola Pier Park – the British Virgin Islands’ major cruise destination – is also displaying its quick recovery, thanks to a restoration campaign letting the public know that the park’s efforts will continue.

“The Caribbean is a truly magnificent destination offering a broad range of exciting holiday experiences, so let’s all do our best to support of the islands at a time when it is most needed”.

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