As yacht owners, yacht charter operators, and all other yachting stakeholders well know, Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria, have wreaked havoc to many areas of the Caribbean. Several popular island charter destinations went relatively unscathed, while others, even now, have not completely recovered.
Despite the fact that in some places recovery efforts continue, businesses and the many chambers of commerce, and tourism bureaus throughout the Caribbean, want visitors and boaters to know that the islands are open for business. In fact, John Delaney, President of Windstar cruises wished to personally welcome visitors back to the islands, and dispel any misinformation that may be keeping them away, by joining them on the first scheduled cruise to San Juan since Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The cruise departed on November 25th. In a company press release announcing the cruise, Delaney said, “Although areas of the Caribbean are still rebuilding after the recent hurricanes, so much of the Caribbean is open and welcoming visitors to their wondrous islands. Travelers should not be concerned about beginning or ending a cruise in San Juan, where the cruise terminal has been operational for weeks, along with the airport. I’ll be personally making the trip, [aboard our cruise] to enjoy time in Old San Juan.”
Delany’s encouraging thoughts, where echoed at the recent, Superyacht Forum in Amsterdam, where, Norina Edelman, of International Marine Management, held a Caribbean-focused session that detailed which infrastructure is up and running, which airports are operating, the capacity of marinas, all supported by a selection of photos of superyachts entering Caribbean waters, with a clear message – the Caribbean is up and running and superyachts should still come here.
With tourism the main economic driver for most of the islands of the Caribbean, and with the winter yacht charter business season just beginning, the various chambers of commerce and tourism boards of the region are doing their best to provide as much information as possible, about the state of their marinas and other infrastructure to support yacht visitors and their guests.
For example, The St Maarten Marine Trades Association has launched and continues to operate a website that has been designed to provide accurate, objective and up-to-date information in order to create a realistic picture of travelling in the Caribbean this season and give updates on the recovery efforts within areas affected by the recent hurricanes. Visitors to the site can get info on:
- Maarten/St. Martin
- The US Virgin Islands
- The British Virgin Islands
- The Turks and Caicos
- Puerto Rico
There is even a tab for Islands that were not at all directly impacted by the hurricane, which include many popular yacht charter destinations such as Martinique, Antigua, and Saint Lucia!
South Florida and the Florida Keys
While Hurricane Irma did its share of damage to Florida, our marine and yachting industry was dealt only a glancing blow.
In particular, the yachting hubs of South Florida, such as Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, were largely spared. This is all according to a trade group called the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, which reported that Irma inflicted “only minor damage on boatyards and marinas in Broward and Palm Beach counties, all of which are open for business.”
As our readers know, the association also reported that there was “minimal storm damage at seven show sites for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and FLIBS 2017 went off without a hitch, and was one of the most successful shows ever! In fact, it may very well be that the exhibitors at the 2017 Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show benefited from the storms, as many visitors came to the show, with insurance checks in hand, needing to replace damaged vessels and/or accessories.
We are happy to report that all of the yachts in our care at Marina Bay and our other marinas fared well, and our marinas, and brokerage offices, are open for business!
Key West was not as lucky as the South Florida mainland, but by most recent accounts, the “Conch Republic” is back and open for business! Key West unofficially reopened its doors and shores to tourists on October 2nd. Since then the cruise ships have been returning, the drinks have been flowing on Duval Street, and it was officially declared “open for business” by the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce on October 19th, just in time for what was one of the most celebratory Fantasy Fests on record, which ran from October 20th to 29th.
The area is now gearing up for an outrageous and festive holiday season, so be sure to check with our charter brokers for Key West specials for the Holidays and New Year’s Eve!
Choosing the right charter experience can be challenging. If you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Charter Specialists, or call us at 954-235-3468