Royal Caribbean International (RCI) will return to hurricane hit Caribbean islands of San Juan, Puerto Rico at the end of this month and Philipsburg, St Maarten in December.
On 30th November, ‘Freedom of the Seas’ will be the first RCI ship to call on San Juan, arriving with around 3,782 visitors, the cruise line said.
‘Grandeur of the Seas’ is due to arrive at St Maarten on 17th December and will be the first cruise ship to call at the island since RCI’s ‘Majesty of the Seas’ arrived to provide humanitarian relief in September.
In addition, ‘Adventure of the Seas’ will be the first ship to call at St Thomas on 10th November, RCI claimed.
“Royal Caribbean is encouraged by the commendable progress that has been made by the governments of Puerto Rico and St Maarten towards the recovery of these destinations and it means a lot to us that we are heading back home. We have been part of the Caribbean community for almost 50 years, and for all of us it has been paramount that we focus on supporting our long-standing partners – who feel more like family after so many years,” said Michael Bayley, RCI President and CEO.“Supporting these destinations that are so reliant on tourism is key to the future of the islands and the best thing we – as travellers and businesses – can do for the islands.”
Power and transportation are due to be restored in San Juan by 30th November and the return of power and water to most of St Maarten means that a majority of the shops, restaurants, bars, and tour operators around Philipsburg will be fully operational..
As of the end of November, all scheduled calls to San Juan and St Thomas by 10 ships in RCI’s fleet will operate as planned – including calls from the world’s largest cruise ships each sailing with nearly 6,000 visitors each week – ‘Oasis of the Seas’, ‘Allure of the Seas’ and ‘Harmony of the Seas’.
The scheduled visits to St Maarten will operate as planned starting in the middle of December with the exception of ‘Oasis of the Seas’, which will make her first call to the island on 1st January, during her New Year’s Eve cruise. In addition, the cruise line will return to St Croix on 8th January with the arrival of ‘Jewel of the Seas’, which will sail from San Juan.
However, all calls to Dominica are cancelled through June, 2018 and the cruise line is working closely with the local government on a return date to the destination, the company said.
Meanwhile, the first cruise ship returned to the Virgin Islands last Friday.
“Welcoming cruise visitors back to the US Virgin Islands is a key element of our plan to boost economic activity, generate employment and stimulate recovery efforts,” stated Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Department of Transport commissioner, said to local media.
The arrival of the ‘Seabourn Odyssey’ in St Thomas on 3rd November, marked the first non-relief vessel to berth in the USVI since 17th September, when Royal Caribbean’s ‘Adventure of the Seas’ arrived at Frederiksted, St Croix just days before Hurricane ‘Maria’ struck.
Mrs Nicholson-Doty also revealed that the territory is putting plans in place for traffic flow management on days when there are many cruise ships in port.