September 9, 2019
(7 p.m. EDT) -- Cruise ports in the Bahamas are taking stock after Hurricane Dorian roared through the island archipelago as a high-powered storm over Labor Day weekend.
Grand Bahama Island, where the popular cruise stop Freeport is located, received a full-on blast from Dorian on September 2. The hurricane hovered in the area for more than 30 hours before slowly moving toward Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and parts of Canada.
The National Hurricane Center described "catastrophic winds and storm surge" on the island, and videos from residents showed frightening conditions. There have so far been at least 50 confirmed casualties -- though that is expected to rise in the coming days -- and 13,000 homes damaged, leaving more than 70,000 people homeless.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors in two of our northern islands, Abaco and Grand Bahama Island, which have been directly impacted by Hurricane Dorian," Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation Director General Joy Jibrilu said in a release. "At this time we are doing everything we can to support these islands as first responders begin rescue efforts and assess damage. We are deeply concerned for the safety and wellbeing of all those in Abaco and Grand Bahama Island, and continue to be grateful that the majority of our 700 islands and cays have been unaffected."
Businesses within cruise industry stepped up quickly and are offering millions of dollars in relief and aid to the Bahamas.
Although Grand Bahama Island remains closed to visitors due to the damage sustained, the runway at the airport there has been cleared, and the port has reopened in order to receive aid.
Bimini, where Virgin Voyages is building a private beach club in anticipation for its cruise line launch in 2020, closed its airport September 2, but it has since reopened. Virgin has confirmed that there was no damage to the beach club area.
Islands south of Dorian's path were spared the worst. Nassau remains open with little to no damage, although the area received heavy rain.
Here’s what Cruise Critic knows so far about the state of cruise line private islands in the Bahamas:
Castaway Cay: Disney Cruise Line has confirmed that Castaway Cay will reopen on Thursday September 12. A statement reads: "The process of cleaning up areas of the island and making repairs related to the tropical storm conditions experienced last week. We anticipate re-opening the island on Thursday, September 12, as long as all necessary work is completed. Guests going ashore will see signs of the recent storm's passing and some experiences on the island may be unavailable."
Perfect Day at CocoCay: Royal Caribbean closed Perfect Day at CocoCay on August 28, well before the storm hit, to allow employees to evacuate. The island was spared the brunt of the storm and reopened on September 7, with Navigator of the Seas calling there on September 8. A statement read: "The storm left behind debris, washed away some of our sand and bricks, and took down many of our trees. We started working on repairs as quickly as possible, but we kindly ask that you 'mind our dust' -- or sand."
Great Stirrup Cay: Norwegian Cruise Line will resume calls on Great Stirrup Cay during the week of September 9. According to the line, the port "experienced minimal beach erosion as a result of the storm and has already been restored with sand that had been previously ordered."
Half Moon Cay: Carnival reports that Half Moon Cay calls resumed on September 11, with Carnival Ecstasy the first ship to visit since the storm. According to a statement from Holland America Line, which also uses the island, "Half Moon Cay was only minimally impacted by Hurricane Dorian. There was some minor beach erosion, which will be cleaned up, but no structural damage. The horses and stingrays are all doing well. Holland America Line ships return to Half Moon Cay on October 21 with a visit by Zuiderdam."
Princess Cays: In a statement, Princess said that "Hurricane Dorian’s impact to Princess Cays ... was limited to beach erosion and debris. Cleanup work needs to be completed prior to welcoming guests ... and this work is already well underway."
Ocean Cay Marine Reserve: According to a statement from MSC Cruises, the island, which is still under construction, has not sustained any noteworthy damages. Ocean Cay is located within the Bimini island chain of the Bahamas.
Elsewhere in the Caribbean, major ports were spared extensive damage from Dorian.
Grand Turk, which is on the southern end of the Turks and Caicos archipelago, is open and accepting cruise ships.
Although the storm hit St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands on August 28 with hurricane-force winds of more than 75 mph, no major damage was reported. The cruise port reopened on August 29.
The British Virgin Islands also received winds and rain from Dorian on August 28, but the government categorized it as "minimal damage." The port of Tortola reopened on August 29.
Although Hurricane Dorian was forecast to hit both Puerto Rico (which was severely damaged by a hurricane two years ago) and Hispaniola, home of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the storm turned north. San Juan, Labadee and Amber Cove are all open.