PHOTO: The Disney Fantasy and MSC Divina docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (photo by Jason Leppert)
As far as cruise itineraries are concerned, the Caribbean is not quite back to business as usual.
However, following recent hurricane destruction, things are starting to look better. There is a glimmer of light now emerging at the end of the tunnel for St. Croix, St. Thomas, Tortola and even San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Like the recent reopening of Key West, Florida to cruise ships, the U.S. Virgin Islands are hoping to be up and running soon, according to Seatrade Cruise News. While cruise lines would like to begin returning to St. Croix and St. Thomas as early as October 15, based on Governor Kenneth Mapp’s assessment, the end of the month is more likely.
Priorities now are to reopen famed Magens Bay as well as ensure operational restaurants, stores and other beaches in addition to security infrastructure.
Seatrade Cruise News reports the British Virgin Islands are on a similar track. Even though the destination took a toll, the cruise facilities managed relatively well. Tortola Pier Park received minor damage according to Mark Vanterpool, minister of communications and works.
At least half of the pier-side shops and restaurants are looking to open by November 1. Outside the port, restoration is also underway on roadways, electricity, water and telecommunications. A status report regarding beaches and other attractions is still forthcoming.
Cruise Fever reports Royal Caribbean International’s Adventure of the Seas will return to home-porting from San Juan, Puerto Rico on October 7. Jose Izquierdo, Executive Director of Puerto Rico Tourism Company, announced the news on Twitter.
Royal Caribbean’s website still indicates all other calls on San Juan are still being replaced with different destinations. In fact, the line is also continuing to bypass St. Croix and St. Thomas, as well as St. Maarten for the time being.
Meanwhile, Princess Cruises is already anticipating being able to return with its Regal Princess to St. Thomas and San Juan for its December 17 sailing. Off limits also to Princess, though, is St. Maarten in addition to Dominica and Virgin Gorda.
Though Grand Turk and St. Barts remain closed according to USA Today, the latter is expected to be ready to accept its next scheduled call on October 30. Grand Turk, on the other hand, is still being replaced by Carnival Cruise Line.
The future for Dominica, Grand Turk, St. Maarten and Virgin Gorda remains unknown.
At least the entire industry is banding together to assist the Caribbean at large and it is all helping bring the bulk of the destinations back up to their usual paradise conditions. In the meantime, less frequented islands are seeing increased cruise ship traffic and visitor love as well.