This Week in Cruises: August 29, 2011


Hurricane Irene has caused as much as $1.1 bullion in damages to the Caribbean. // (c) 2011 NOAA.

As Hurricane Irene finishes plowing upwards through the East Coast, the travel industry begins picking up the pieces and resumes business. The cruise industry specifically has seen several entire itineraries altered in order to avoid the storm, and many destinations have been heavily damaged.

AIR Worldwide has estimated that Irene has caused between $500 million and $1.1 billion in damages in the Caribbean. Over 60 percent of the damage incurred was centered in the Bahamas alone, where the hurricane damaged over 500 miles of the archipelago.

In America, New York area mass transit was shut down as a preemptive safety measure against the havoc threatened by Irene, and by this morning airports have been open and receiving aircraft. New York State governor Andrew Cuomo reported over his Twitter feed that 398,000 New York citizens were without power, but 125,000 customers have had their power restored.

He was not the first to use Twitter to inform the public of the status of businesses during the hurricane. Amtrak and MetroNorth both used social networking services to inform passengers of delays and updates regarding repair efforts.

Irene reached as far North as Quebec, spraying 65 mph winds that caused over 180,000 of Hydro-Quebec's customers to lose power as far as Montreal and the West Island. In Vermont, the storm canceled approximately 9,000 airline flights, while 4.5 million homes and business are reported to have lost power throughout the United States.

Cruises affected by the storm include Holland America's Veendam operation, which ended its itinerary in New York one day early. Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Summit extended its iterarary a whole day in order to avoid Irene before home-porting in Bayonne, New Jersey. The itinerary after its current one will be shortened by a day, and all passengers will be awarded shipboard credit in return in an amount to be announced when they board the ship Aug. 29.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Gem will begin its new voyage a day early on Aug. 29. The Norwegian Jewel returned to NYC early and departed ahead of schedule in order to avoid the storm. The Norwegian Sky spent the day at sea Aug. 27 rather than visiting Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas.

Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Glory left NYC two hours early on Saturday for a Canada cruise, and will call on St. John's a day late on Tuesday. Carnival Fantasy will not be able to call on King's Wharf in Bermuda, and will instead call on Cozumel and Key West.

Beyond the storm, there are other cruise developments of note. Port Canaveral began work on its new $60 million cruise terminal last week. The terminal is expected to be completed by July of 2012.

A lawsuit between the Coastal Conservation League and Carnival Cruise Lines seeks to prove that large ships exceeding a specific size and height docked in Charleston, South Carolina become buildings that are subject to local zoning laws and height ordinances. This has become a hot topic for organizations outside of Carnival Cruise Lines, as city zoning codes could potentially bar other ships from docking at the city, affecting industries throughout South Carolina.

And earlier last week, before Irene disrupted the cruise industry, results from the Virtuoso Performance Awards chose to recognize Regent Seven Seas Cruises as the “Best Luxury Cruise Experience,” while Oceania Cruises was named the “Most Innovative Cruise Line.”

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