The familiar vista of a cruise ship in harbour on Wednesday was a welcoming sight for residents who worried that the destruction caused by hurricane Irma signaled the end of hopes for ships and tourists over the holidays.
The visit this week was met with cheers as many read reports of the cancelation of many of the ships that usually call on the Territory. In fact Monday this week Disney Cruise Lines (DCL) announced that while it will be returning to the Eastern Caribbean, it has altered its itinerary to exclude the BVI.
The company announced: “Tortola, British Virgin Islands continues to recover from the effects of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. As a result, DCL will alter the ports of call for the Disney Fantasy Eastern Caribbean beginning with the December 30th sailing through March to include Philipsburg, St. Maarten, instead of Tortola, British Virgin Islands.”
Meanwhile MSC cruises announced that its ship MSC Divina which usually stops in the BVI will not do so in January and February. The company stated that it will call at Oranjestad (Aruba) and Willemstad (Curaçao) instead of at Road Town, Tortola (British Virgin Islands) and Basseterre, (St. Kitts & Nevis).
Celebrity cruises are also axing the BVI from its itinerary for the moment as the company announced that it has diverted its year-round Caribbean ship, Celebrity Equinox, from St. Thomas, Tortola, Punta Cana, Key West and San Juan to southern Caribbean ports such as Curacao and Eastern Caribbean ports such as St. Croix, St. Kitts, Martinique and Antigua, as well as Falmouth, Jamaica.
Holland America also announced that it modified its itinerary to replace its Tortola stops with stops in St Croix. Similarly P&O Cruises announced that its ship will have an extra day in Barbados and a visit Guadeloupe instead of St Maarten and Tortola.
A commentator told this newspaper that decisions taken by cruise lines executives are bottom line oriented: “A friend in need is a friend indeed, but they conveniently chose to overlook that. It must be added that calamities like hurricane Irma are caused by global warming which is a gift from industrial countries…let’s see when such calamities will increasingly visit their shores.”