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Saturday,  May 25, 2024 2:08 PM 

Caribbean Is Open, says cruise industry


Caribbean Is Open, says cruise industry
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

The cruise sector is reminding travellers that despite the images of devastation from a record hurricane season, the Caribbean is open for business and eager for visitors to return.

The message was relayed during a media conference call yesterday by Cruise Lines International Association, including CLIA Chair and Carnival CEO Arnold Donald; Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Chair and Royal Caribbean President & COO Adam Goldstein; and FCCA President Michele Paige. To reach more travellers, the FCCA has recently launched an awareness campaign, including caribbeanisopen.com, a new website detailing the status of each island and cruise ports across the Caribbean.

“It’s important for the general public to know that the vast majority of the Caribbean was unaffected by September’s storms and the Caribbean has been and continues to be, open for business,” Paige said, adding that there’s still a lingering perception amongst segments of the population that the entire region was affected and that tourism is still in recovery. “Perception could not be further from the truth – we expect 90 per cent of all Caribbean destinations to be welcoming cruise guests in the coming weeks.”

“Most of the region was untouched by the storms,” added Donald, “meaning that most of the destinations that travellers love are open and welcoming people with open arms. Recovery is also happening very quickly in widespread areas, thanks to support efforts and the strength and resiliency of people in those affected areas.”

According to Goldstein, only four ports remain closed at this time; among the worst-hit islands was St. Maarten, which Paige said is expected to be “fully operational” by Nov. 11.

As for future hurricane seasons, the group is optimistic that education and awareness will allow bookings to weather any future storms.

“We’ve been in the Caribbean for 45 years,” said Donald, “and as bad as this year was, there’s been hurricane seasons with multiple Category 5 storms. We have to watch and pay attention to it, but the more people are aware that the Caribbean is up and running, there’s less probability of any lasting impact or concern.”

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