(10:40 a.m. EST) -- Several cruise lines are stepping in with much-needed aid in the face of what's predicted to be a year-long rebuilding process for hurricane-ravaged St. Lucia.
The popular Southern Caribbean port, nestled among the Windward Islands, was caught by surprise when Hurricane Tomas strengthened rapidly just before it struck on October 30. The Category 1 storm left the island littered by fallen trees, inflicted severe damage upon major roads, buildings and crops and forced the closing of the port to cruise traffic November 2-6. NationNews.com of Barbados reports that St. Lucia Prime Minister Stephenson King has estimated that about $500 million will be needed to repair the damage done by the storm.
On Sunday, P&O Cruises' Oceana was the first ship to call on St. Lucia after the storm; it arrived bearing two pallets packed with mineral water, biscuits, mattresses and furniture. Holland America's Noordam docked shortly thereafter, bringing with it 45,000 gallons of drinking water produced and provided to the community and 15,000 pounds of food and supplies.
Royal Caribbean rep Cynthia Martinez told Cruise Critic that Serenade of the Seas, which called in St. Lucia on Tuesday, also brought relief supplies to the island. Goods including water, rice, dried beans, powdered milk and canned items were delivered, and the ship provided potable water from its tanks.
Several other cruise lines, including Princess and Carnival, have ships scheduled to call on the island within the next week.
Earlier this year, cruise lines similarly came to the aid of Haiti -- home to Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private island -- after it was rocked by a massive earthquake in late-December 2009.
-- by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer
Cruise Lines Come to the Aid of Hurricane Ravaged St. Lucia