Cruise industry: A lighthouse in the storm

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Courtesy photo The Norwegian Escape docked at St. Thomas.

Tears, sorrow, pain and destruction cannot be measured from the natural disasters created by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. As the eye of the storm pummeled trees, houses, cars and lives, many Americans went to their knees to plead for the safety of loved ones.

As the storms passed, the destruction was indescribable. Millions of lives were changed in an instant. The search for food, shelter, water and clothing have become a necessity for survival for many affected.

As the rebuilding of lives and homes has begun, we have seen an amazing humanitarian movement.

Soon after Hurricane Harvey ripped through Texas, we saw millions of dollars pouring in to help with the relief of its victims. Carnival Cruise Line and the Carnival Foundation combined efforts and donated $1 million. Carnival Corporation Chairman Mickey Arison and wife Madeleine added their matching funds of $1 million from the Mickey & Madeleine Arison Family Foundation. Many others including World Travel Holdings added their contribution to assist in the aftermath.

As Hurricane Irma followed on the heels of Harvey, more destruction and devastation continued. As Irma moved toward Florida more cruise lines came to the rescue. Norwegian Cruise Lines turned two ships back to Miami ahead of the storm to allow passengers to return home to safety. For approximately 4,000 displaced guests between the two ships, NCL boarded them onto the Escape and headed back out to sea to escape the path of the storm. The Escape is waiting to safely return with her passengers to the Port of Miami.

Once passengers had disembarked from the Norwegian Sky, she quickly headed back out to sea with supplies to St. Thomas. The Sky is currently assisting with the evacuation of travelers who are stranded in St. Thomas.

Norwegian ships sailing from Miami will continue with normal operations this weekend. Due to the extent of the damage done in the Eastern Caribbean, NCL plans to adjust the itineraries to the Western Caribbean for the next two months.

As humanitarian efforts continue, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is also taking on its share. On Friday, before the hurricane reached Florida, RCCL used one of its own ships to evacuate employees and their families from Miami. They have also deployed ships to St. Thomas and St. Maarten (the Dutch side) in conjunction with regional and U.S. governments to assist with supplies and safely evacuate people from St. Maarten. Two other RCCL ships, Empress of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas are waiting to assist Key West and Tampa once the impact is known.

I wholeheartedly admire these cruise lines that have gone above and beyond the call of duty. They are not sitting idle, but rather showing generosity and compassion to those in need.

I am proud to be part of this industry!

• • •

Sharon Kevins, MCC & Associates Independent Vacation Specialists, is the owner of CruiseOne in Post Falls.

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