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TTC special: Caribbean: Cruises sailed despite viruses and hurricanes

TTC Special: Cruise ships are ready to set sail next summer

Photo: ©Worachat Sodsri/123rf

By Frank Martin

Caribbean cruises not only face the covid-19 virus, which remains a great threat in 2021, but also hurricanes in a harsh season that will last until November like every normal year.

This double threat threatens regional tourism reopened this summer in precarious conditions due to the pandemic.

The big cruise companies agree that Caribbean hurricanes are old enemies in some ways more predictable than the pandemic.

But thinking like that doesn’t improve expectations.

The first hurricane in the 2021 Caribbean hurricane season was Elsa, which reached its peak intensity in July. Just a situation considered normal by meteorologists.

To complicate odds, more than ten June, July and August tropical storms appeared, a statistic higher than normal.

Ida, a very destructive one, impacted Caribbean islands and penetrated even more strongly into Louisiana recalling the tragedy caused by Katrina in 2006.

A hurricane season like the one in the Caribbean from June to November always has a great impact on tourism. Just because planning must always be done expecting the worst.

During cyclonic seasons up to 20 tropical storms can emerge. About ten use to become severe hurricanes.

And experts argue that September and October can be just awful before an unpredictable November.

This year the destructive winds and the heavy and prolonged rains have an ally.

Everybody knows who.

This is because a tropical cyclone is an organized, rotating system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has a low-level closed circulation for a limited period of time.

In the other hand could be quite different an epidemic like the Covid-19 one that is not yet known even how was originated or how long will stay in the vicinity yet.

Even so cruises are already sailing and planning the rest of the year until December.

For instance, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation announced early this month that three new Crystal Cruises voyages will be included in its growing list of itineraries beginning in 2021 fall season.

Those resort islands made plans even for New Year. In the case of Crystal Cruises, it includes a 10-night cruise from Miami, Florida to Bimini, San Salvador, Long Island and Great Exuma, with a last stop in Jamaica.

Despite storms, hurricanes and viruses, the competition is open.

Since the beginning of August Royal Caribbean Group revealed that despite the Delta variant, it relies on vaccines to travel safely, while the cruise industry sails cautiously even amid the pandemic.

It is not a financial secret that revenues of large companies have fallen to their lowest levels of any other time, result due to Covid-19 epidemic.

This financial situation justified that cruise operators resumed navigation from US ports mainly in June with mostly vaccinated passengers and crew.

No matter that its potential capabilities to transport passengers were limited by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It should also be remembered that this resumption continues to be gradually, after a suspension of operations that has lasted one year.

“Vaccines are the ultimate weapon,” Royal Caribbean Chief Executive Richard Fain said in a meeting with tourism analysts.

But mister Fain cautioned that it is impossible to completely eliminate cases aboard a ship and the firm has had to take precautions, including different passenger’s cabins designs, to prevent isolated cases from causing an outbreak.

Under these or other similar innovations, international cruise lines have promised operational roll out till December.

It was announced that on August 24 the first cruise ship docked in the Port of Cartagena, Colombia, after more than a year and a half without the shipping companies arriving in that country.

The cruise ship is the Star Breeze, from the Windstar Cruises line, which reached the coast of Cartagena with 312 passengers and 190 crew members.

Other lines to sail soon to Cartagena and other tourist destinations are Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Scenic Luxury Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Princess Cruises and MSC Cruises; and for Santa Marta the Norwegian and Ritz Carlton Yacht.

Neither of the big cruise’s companies forgot to check the hurricane season forecasts to adjust their schedules.

Nevertheless, perhaps somehow the mighty hurricanes could seem almost harmless compared to the monstrous pandemic.


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