Monday, January 29, 2018

A potential new cruise to take

Pre-Hurricane Norwegian Gem Caribbean Cruise Route - 2017

Post-Hurricane Norwegian Gem Caribbean Cruise Route - 2018

Last year, major hurricane damage caused the major cruise lines to cancel some cruises, reroute other cruises, and offer completely new itineraries to reach islands minimally affected by 2017's storms.  Recently, Lili has been trying to get me interested in taking another cruise with her on the same ship she was starting to grow tired of as of our 2017 cruise.  As much as I'd like to try a new ship, a new route, and a new cruise line, I am tempted to try this new itinerary out - if I can schedule two make up sessions for expected Spring Semester speech therapy.

How many months has it been since the hurricane trashed Puerto Rico?  In the past, our government would have given the rebuilding effort a very high priority and would divert resources to ensure a rapid recovery.  Not with this administration. Something as basic as the electricity grid will take another 6 months or so to rebuild. (To be fair, Puerto Rico's electricity grid, like its infrastructure, was neglected for years due to the island's financial problems.) So it is not a surprise that this island is no longer on a post-hurricane route.

The same hurricanes also hit the US Virgin Islands. and our government has treated them differently than they have treated Puerto Rico. For example, the Jones act prohibits foreign ships from transporting passengers and goods from one US port to another.  (Cruise ships get around this law by including at least one non-US port on their itineraries.)  Puerto Rico got a mere 20 day exemption from this law, while the US Virgin Islands got an unlimited exemption.  St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix have had an easier time of recovering from the storms and have reopened for cruise ships.

Tortola and St. Martin/St. Maarten were also in the storms' paths, and they suffered major damage. Yet, I expect that they will recover relatively quickly, as their parent governments (Britain, France and the Netherlands) tend to be more responsive to their colonies than we have been lately.

But where should a ship go when most of the islands on its normal route can't handle tourists yet?  In the case of the Norwegian Gem, they chose 3 islands which were outside the storms' direct paths: Antigua, Martinique, and St. Lucia. And I'd like to go to these islands while I can do so - the cruise line is redeploying this ship for 7-day Bahamas cruises after the last winter sailing in March.

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