(Updated 10:30 a.m. EDT) -- Cruise lines continue to utilize their ships for supply deliveries to the Caribbean islands most severely damaged by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, as well as donate funds toward recovery.
Aid for islands affected by Hurricane Maria, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is just starting to be announced. On September 26, Royal Caribbean posted on its Facebook page that it would deploy a ship to San Juan and St. Croix for evacuation assistance. The ports remain closed while damage is assessed.
In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line all deployed ships to ports such as St. Maarten and St. Thomas to deliver supplies, including food, water and clothing. This remains an ongoing process for several ships. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian also have assisted in rescue missions.
Ports are getting into the act too. To support relief missions, Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades is waiving tariff charges for ships transporting supplies to Caribbean islands affected by the two hurricanes.
"Our Caribbean neighbors are suffering losses not only to their personal property, but also to their livelihoods which are dependent upon the cruise industry and tourism," the port's chief executive Steven Cernak said in a statement. "The tariff waiver is a direct incentive to ocean carriers and companies supplying construction supplies, food and medicine to help the people of the Caribbean rebuild."
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- Hurricane Irma: A Look Back at the Storm
Supply Deliveries to San Juan, St. Croix, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, St. John and Key West
Royal Caribbean has canceled Adventure of the Seas September 30 cruise so the ship can be used for relief efforts. It will deliver supplies to San Juan and St. Croix, in addition to ports still affected by Hurricane Irma.
Prior to Hurricane Maria, Royal Caribbean canceled a handful of sailings on Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas and utilized the ships for relief efforts in Hurricane Irma-affected islands. Majesty of the Seas delivered water, ice, milk, garbage bags, toilet paper, medical supplies, pet food and supplies, generators and batteries to the ports of St. Maarten, St. Thomas and St. John; while Empress of the Seas brought supplies to Key West. Adventure of the Seas stopped in St. Maarten on a regular sailing to drop off clothing and water.
Aid in Evacuations
Adventure of the Seas will assist with evacuations in San Juan and St. Croix, as supplies are delivered. Evacuees will be taken to Fort Lauderdale.
During supply drop-offs, ships also evacuated stranded travelers from the ports. Prior to Hurricane Irma's U.S. landfall, Royal Caribbean offered complimentary rooms on Enchantment of the Seas -- whose following two cruises had been canceled -- to any of its South Florida employees who needed a safe haven. The line also secured water for employees who were not able to stock up, due to the limited supply in stores across the area.
To raise money for Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria relief, Royal Caribbean said it would match donations up to $1 million for affected communities.
Supply Deliveries to St. Maarten and Barbuda
During port calls to St. Kitts and Antigua, Carnival Fascination has delivered pallets of water, food, clothing, diapers, generators and other critical supplies to the residents of St. Maarten and Barbuda. In a previous statement, the line said it would extend its efforts to Grand Turk and St. Thomas.
Carnival Corp. & plc -- together with the Miami Heat Charitable Fund and Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation -- has pledged up to $10 million for relief and rebuilding efforts in the Caribbean and Florida; an immediate donation of $2.5 million was made to support urgent needs. The company oversees Carnival, Holland America and Princess, among other cruise lines.
In addition, Carnival revealed on its Twitter page it would donate 100 percent of the proceeds from comedian Chris Tucker's upcoming Carnival LIVE performances to Hurricane Irma relief efforts.
Supply Deliveries to St. Thomas
Norwegian Sky cruises were canceled so the ship could be used to deliver supplies to St. Thomas.
Aid in Evacuations
Norwegian Cruise Line, in cooperation with the government of St. Thomas, deployed Norwegian Sky to the island to rescue thousands of displaced residents and stranded travelers.
Before Hurricane Irma hit Florida, Norwegian Escape gave passengers the option to disembark or remain onboard and evacuate. The ship departed Miami at full capacity, with more than 4,000 passengers from the previous cruise, as well as the canceled Norwegian Sky sailing, the line said. (The ship's following cruise had been canceled.)
In partnership with All Hands Volunteers, Norwegian -- along with its sister brands Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises -- is raising funds to help rebuild several schools on islands damaged by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. The line will match donations $1.25 million; it hopes to raise $2.5 million, with 100-percent of the proceeds going to people affected by the hurricanes.
Accommodations for First Responders and Residents
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has chartered the line's only ship, Grand Celebration, to house first responders in St. Thomas as they help to rebuild the island following Hurricane Irma. Regular sailings are scheduled to resume December 23.
Immediately after Hurricane Irma, Grand Celebration docked in Palm Beach through September 16, providing free hot meals to first responders and deeply discounted accommodations and meals ($39 per person, per night) to people displaced by the storm.
Aid in Evacuations
For South Florida residents who wanted to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line offered a one-time four-night cruise to nowhere at a significantly reduced cost.
As part of the Walt Disney Corporation, Disney Cruise Line donated $2.5 million to aid in humanitarian relief efforts across Florida, the Caribbean and other areas impacted by Hurricane Irma. It also donated meals and bedding to shelters, provided storage for supplies and power-utility vehicles, and made rooms available for first responders.
Aid in Evacuations
Days before Hurricane Irma touched down on Florida, MSC Divina gave passengers the option to disembark or remain onboard and evacuate. The ship departed Miami and rode out the storm in Cozumel. (The ship's following cruise had been canceled.)
In addition to matching $1.25 million through its parent company's partnership with All Hands Volunteers, Oceania will donate $500 per stateroom for every new booking on select winter 2017-2018 Caribbean cruises (namely, those whose itineraries have been impacted by storm damage on the islands).
On select 2018 Seven Seas Explorer Caribbean cruises, Regent Seven Seas will donate $750 per suite booked between now and October 31. The contribution is in addition to the $1.25 million its parent company will match through a partnership with All Hands Volunteers.
--By Gina Kramer, Editor
Want to help? Make a donation to the Red Cross Hurricane Relief Efforts.