by Sarah JF Braley | October 16, 2017
In a press conference today to underscore that the majority of the Caribbean's destinations were unaffected by the season's hurricanes, executives from the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean shared insights on the recovery work taking place in the region. The FCCA is launching a campaign, "Caribbean Is Open for Business," to remind travelers that cruise ships are sailing regularly around the islands; Carnival, in fact, turned around two cruises as usual in San Juan, Puerto Rico, over the past two weekends.
 
The perception that this is not the time to travel to the Caribbean "could not be further from the truth," said Michele Paige, president of the FCCA, who said the marketing campaign is done out of love for the region. "We expect up to 90 percent of Caribbean destinations to welcome cruise guests in the coming weeks."
 
Both Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival, and Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean, said their sailings have not been discounted going forward. "Overall, we're in a business-as-usual kind of mode," said Goldstein, who added that only four of the 50 ports Royal Caribbean uses were affected by the hurricanes, and all will be accepting cruises by the ended of November.
 
Donald noted that Carnival's Caribbean ships largely are booked through the fourth quarter of the year and into the beginning of 2018. "While there might be, on any given itinerary, some incentives offered for certain categories, our business is strong," he said. 
 
One Carnival ship, the Fascination, has been taken out of the region's rotation and has been stationed in the U.S. Virgin Islands as housing support for workers with the Federal Emergency Management Association through the end of January. The thousands of travelers who had booked cruises on the vessel in the coming months have been spread across other itineraries or are beng helped to find dates in the future for their travel. "If Puerto Rico is going to recover, you have to get support there," said Donald.
 
Both executives also noted that they are not returning to destinations unless the full shore-excursion offerings are available to cruise passengers. "There's no point in going to a port if we can't deliver," said Goldstein. "If you see us return to a port, we're satisfied they're able to provide a guest-satisfying experience." 
 
Both cruise lines also are interested in offering future sailings with a humanitarian angle for guests who want to help with the clean-up. "We will look at that as the recovery process unfolds," said Goldstein.
 
Donald and Goldstein have visited various parts of the region, with the Carnival CEO on the ground in Saint Martin right after Hurricane Irma and the Royal Caribbean CEO inspecting San Juan last week. With respect to Puerto Rico, which has a long recovery ahead after being hit by Hurricane Maria, Goldstein said, "When you drive around San Juan, it's completely fine. There will probably be more emphasis on the city core [for shore excursions] in the near term. The rainforest was significantly damaged; that will take longer to recover."