When Dorian threatened, Royal Caribbean had a balloon to deal with

AUSTIN, Texas — Royal Caribbean had a myriad of decisions to make before, during and after Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas. 

And while it’s Up, Up and Away helium balloon at private island CocoCay was not at the top of the list, it was still something the company had to address. To deflate or not to deflate?

Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain talked about the balloon, and Royal’s other efforts surrounding Dorian, during a press breakfast last week at Signature Travel Network’s Owners’ Meeting at the Fairmont Hotel Austin.

At first glance, it seems like an easy decision to deflate the balloon and not risk hurricane damage. Giant custom helium balloons aren’t exactly for sale on Amazon.

However, deflating the balloon wasn’t a cheap option. The balloon takes over a week to inflate, and with a worldwide helium shortage, filling Up Up and Away costs around $350,000.

The company took the more conservative route and deflated it.

After the storm, a team of about 300 people were flown to a nearby island, then took boats to get to CocoCay. They worked to restore the island, and it has since reopened.

Fain confirmed that the Up Up and Away balloon is being reinflated.

Cruise lines eye reopening of private islands in the Bahamas

The Disney Dream at Castaway Cay.
The Disney Dream at Castaway Cay. Photo Credit: David Roark/Disney

With the passing of Hurricane Dorian, cruise lines were assessing, and gearing up to reopen, their private destinations in the Bahamas.

At Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay, the line said that it needed to evaluate the pier and ship channel before reopening the island to passengers. It also will clean up some landscaping and make minor repairs to the roof of one small covered pavilion area.

Holland America Line said its ships were to return to Half Moon Cay on Oct. 21 as scheduled, and Carnival Cruise Line will be back on the island Sept. 12. Holland America said there was minor beach erosion that will be cleaned up, but no structural damage. “The horses and stingrays are doing well,” it said.

Princess Cruises said initial reports “show only cosmetic damage and beach erosion” on  Princess Cays, its private destination on Eleuthera.

Norwegian Cruise Line said Thursday it was still assessing the situation at Great Stirrup Cay.

As reported previously, Royal Caribbean said it would reopen Perfect Day at CocoCay on Sept. 7, after survey teams decided it was feasible.

CocoCay Closed For Next Week Due to Weather


Royal Caribbean is closing CocoCay due to weather challenges, citing Tropical Storm Dorian.

“Given its current strength and path projections, we’ve decided to close CocoCay until Wednesday, September 4,” the company said, in a statement.

Ships are being rerouted to other ports and sent on different itineraries to avoid challenging weather in the Caribbean.

Pre-purchased shore excursions will be refunded to onboard expense accounts in the form of a credit, the company said.