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article imageCruise companies pledge aid after Dorian wreaks havoc on Bahamas

By Virginie MONTET (AFP)     Sep 4, 2019 in Travel

For the Atlantic's major cruise operators, deadly Hurricane Dorian has meant nothing but trouble in paradise as ships have been diverted from the Bahamas.

But as the widespread devastation becomes more apparent on the ravished archipelago, a bread-and-butter staple of the tourist industry, the companies are pledging to help fund major relief.

At least 20 deaths have already been attributed to Dorian in the Bahamas in what Prime Minister Hubert Minnis called "one of the greatest national crises in our country's history."

Royal Caribbean, which has shuttled thousands of tourists every year to the Bahamas for more than half a century, said it is "rolling up our sleeves to help our friends" in the Bahamas by committing $1 million to Dorian disaster relief.

Similarly, the Disney Cruise Line has pledged, through its parent the Walt Disney Company, to give more than $1 million in cash and in-kind support to those who found themselves in the storm's path.

On Wednesday, the hurricane was advancing northward off the US Coast as a strong Category 2 storm, threatening the eastern states of Georgia and South and North Carolina.

"To make sure our donations go where they can do the most good, we are collaborating with the Bahamian government and our non-profit partner, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), and a network of Bahamian charities and organizations," Royal Caribbean said.

- Rerouted, canceled cruises -

The company urged guest and employee contributions as well by promising to match every dollar donated.

It also said it had loaded generators, water, cleaning supplies, clean sheets, towels and other items onto its ships for delivery to the Bahamas.

The company's Mexican partner ITM, with which it has formed the Holistica joint venture that is developing a resort in Freeport, is donating an additional $100,000, Royal Caribbean added.

The 700 islands that constitute the Bahamas archipelago are located just 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Florida and are the home port to multiple cruise ships.

But for three days, the cruises were forced to avoid the region, with several prolonging their voyages so as to avoid the storm.

Norwegian Cruise Line temporarily substituted New Orleans as its terminus rather than Port Canaveral or Miami in Florida, and Royal Caribbean extended several routes, forcing cruise-goers to spend a few additional nights at sea.

Carnival Cruise Line, meanwhile, canceled several trips and reimbursed the would-be voyagers.

A spokeswoman for the company said cruise ships loaded with humanitarian and economic assistance would head to several Bahamas ports, including Nassau and Freeport, as soon as possible.

It added that it was evaluating how best to help the Grand Bahama shipyard and its employees, as well as tour operators.

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