Foul weather can throw travel plans into chaos as it did this past week with Hurricane Matthew bearing down on the Caribbean and the south-eastern states of the USA.
Tragically, the fierce hurricane with its high winds and torrential rain, devastated Haiti where more than 900 lives were lost, and wrecked havoc on the Bahamas, before heading to Florida on mainland USA.
Throughout, international cruise lines monitored the weather 24/7, and changed ship itineraries to avoid wild conditions.
As australiancruisingnews.com notes, the US Coast Guard quickly closed major ports to cruise ships in Port Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, Port Jacksonville, Palm Beach and Florida’s Key West. Those ports have since reopened.
Affected were ships in the fleets of Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruises, and Fathom, which all diverted away from Hurricane Matthew or cancelled sailings.
Haiti is a fixture on Royal Caribbean’s cruise schedule, with the line’s idyllic 260-acre private beach resort at Labadee regularly enjoyed by passengers.
Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley says that in Haiti, Labadee was thankfully spared the worst of the storm, and that the cruise line is already providing aid and supplies to the people of Haiti.
“Together with our longtime NGO partner, the Pan-American Development Foundation (PADF), we are providing relief supplies to affected areas near Port-au-Prince, and money to buy tarps, water, and food for areas hit by the storm. Hospitals are operating, and medical supplies will be needed. We have also sent mattresses, sheets and blankets to some hard hit areas, and our ships will also be dropping off supplies,” Bayley said.
Royal Caribbean’s private island CocoCay in the Bahamas, and Carnival Cruises private island Half Moon Cay, also in the Bahamas, experienced minor damage from Cyclone Matthew, but will be ship-shape by the time cruise ships there arrive later this month.