Ships Can’t Get There but Cruise Lines still Care

Castaway Cay is a private 1000-acre island exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests (Photo: David Roark)

Lexi Incandela, Reporter

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Hurricane Dorian was the fourth named storm and the first major hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.  It developed from a tropical wave on August 24, 2019 in the central Atlantic Ocean.  Dorian was the strongest storm on record to occur east of Florida in the Atlantic. It had sustained winds in excess of 185 miles per hour when it made landfall on Great Abaco in the Bahamas and it tied for the strongest winds at landfall on record for the Atlantic Ocean with the Labor Day hurricane of 1935.  Dorian may have had wind gusts as high as 220 miles per hour.  Before Dorian, the worst storm the Bahama’s had was in 1932 when a hurricane passed by with 160 mile per hour wind.  Hurricane Andrew also came close to the Bahamas in 1992, but this was not nearly as strong as Dorian.

Dorian caused catastrophic damage to the Bahamas leaving the island with severe flooding with up to 15 feet in rain, and an estimate of 13,000 homes destroyed.  People on the island hid in their attics and on the roof top to protect themselves from the storm surge and many are still waiting to be rescued. Bahamas deputy prime minister, Peter Turnquest said, “With approximately 70% of the homes underwater, we anticipate tremendous social and economic dislocation and disruption in the short term. The mental health of those who have endured this monster storm is a priority concern of the government.” As of now seven people have died, but officials expect that number to rise as people don’t have shelter or fresh drinking water. “We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of the northern Bahamas,” said Hubert Minnis, the nation’s Prime Minister.   In addition to its impressive size and wind speed, Dorian practically stalled over the Bahamas and pounded the islands with its relentless winds for more than 20 hours.

Following the storm, relief efforts started almost immediately.  With most of the islands destroyed and the airport under six feet of water, getting supplies to and from the Bahamas is challenging.  A question being frequently asked by locals is “Why can’t cruise ships be sent to the Bahamas?” Disney, Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines have been offering passengers cruises to the Bahamas for several years, taking advantage of all the islands have to offer tourists.  It seems to make sense that the cruise ships would avail themselves to the people.   However, this is not as plausible as it may seem. Ports in Abacos are small, but the ports in Freeport that are large enough to accommodate the massive ships, may have objects hidden beneath the water that could damage the ship. Cruises have schedules that often get booked out, people might be thinking that they could delay the cruise to help people who need it, but that poses the problem of people taking time off from work and losing money and vacation days.

Although sending ships themselves is not feasible, the cruise lines are undertaking efforts to help by making financial donations towards the island’s recovery. So far, the Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise lines each donated $1 million towards the reparations. “The Bahamas is such a special place to us and our guests, and we have watched the devastation created by Hurricane Dorian with concern and heartache,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Disney Cruise Line.

While this may seem like a great deal of money, given the level of destruction it is a drop in the bucket of what they will need to rebuild. In addition to monetary items, the Bahamas are in need of bottled water, clean-up kits, and nonperishable food items.

Those interesting in sending items for donations can get information at: