It's been half a year now since Dominica was clobbered by Hurricane Maria and Travel Agent is here to tell just how the island is faring, from accommodation and cruise updates to information on attractions and voluntourism packages for those looking to give the small Caribbean island a much-needed assist.
According to Discover Dominica Authority, the island’s destination marketing organization, six months after Maria, Dominica has made major progress in restoring routes to and from the island, and many cruise lines are resuming visits to the country’s two cruise ship berths.
"Nothing is better for our recovery from Hurricane Maria than visitors to our island," said Colin Piper, CEO of the Discover Dominica Authority, in a written release. "We have made significant progress in getting the island ready for guests. Whether it's for a relaxing getaway, special event or meaningful travel, visitors will see the same vibrant spirit of our people and beautiful scenery and features that make Dominica the Nature Island of the Caribbean."
Principals of the Anichi Resort and Spa recently hosted Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and members of his cabinet in a ground breaking ceremony for the 120-room property to be built in the northern town of Portsmouth, Dominica. This boutique property will be operated by Trust Hospitality under the Autograph Collection Hotels brand of Marriott, and it is expected to open in late 2019.
“This ground breaking ceremony is particularly relevant post Hurricane Maria, as it shows the resiliency of our people while instilling trust in the economic climate and hope in the tourism industry in Dominica,” said Alick Lawrence, CEO of Anichi Development, in a written release.
Fort Young Hotel will open additional rooms and Secret Bay, Calibishie Cove and Citrus Creek Planation are expected to reopen in the last quarter of 2018.
Two additional properties, Jungle Bay Resort and Cabrits Resort Kempinski, are expected to open during the first half of 2019. The opening of these two hotels, along with Anichi, will increase Dominica's room stock by 340.
According to the Discover Dominica Authority, a total of 393 hotel and guest house rooms are now available. This represents 41 percent of the total stock of 962 rooms available before Hurricane Maria.
Dominica welcomed its first major cruise call since the island was hit by Hurricane Maria when the Mein Schiff 3, part of German cruise brand TUI Cruises, visited the destination on January 28.
The visit, which brought over 2,000 cruise passengers, marked the first major cruise call to the island and the first call to the Roseau Cruise Ship Berth since the powerful category 5 storm struck the island just over four months ago. A smaller ship, the Sea Cloud II of Sea Cloud Cruises, called at the destination on December 29, 2017.
Carnival Cruises is expected to make a total of five visits, commencing with three in July, 2018.
Before Hurricane Maria, Dominica was on course to receive 219 cruise calls during the 2017-2018 cruise season. This number has since been reduced to 34 calls and the country welcomed the first cruise vessel following the hurricane on December 28.
Flights and Ferries
Dominica has full connectivity to international and regional markets with regular flights offered by regional carriers including LIAT, Seaborne Airlines, WINAIR, Air Sunshine, Coastal Express Carrier and, most recently, InterCaribbean Airways. As of March 22, InterCaribbean Airways will operate nonstop scheduled services between Dominica, St. Lucia and Tortola. Chartered flights are also available via Sky High Aviation Services and Trans Island Air.
The Douglas Charles Airport, located at Melville Hall, and the Canefield Airport have welcomed passengers back since October. Connections are available to Barbados, Antigua, San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Tortola, St. Thomas, Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Croix and St. Thomas.
Air access has been expanded with night landing available at Douglas Charles Airport until 8 p.m. for public flights and until 10 p.m. by special arrangement.
L'Express des Iles fast ferry service was operational within a few weeks after Maria and provides service between Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia. L'Express des Iles has partnered with Air Caraïbes to offer simultaneous airline and ferry bookings with connections to L'Express des Iles destinations. Bookings can be made on www.aircaraibes.com through the NavigAir program.
According to Discover Dominica Authority, the majority of sites and attractions, 19 of the 23 on the island, have been officially declared open to visitors. These include the signature sites of Trafalgar Falls, Middleham Falls, Emerald Pool, Fresh Water Lake and the Indian River.
Visitors now have access to easy-to-moderate hikes across the island, including Syndicate Nature Trail, Cabrits/Fort Shirley and others. Diving tours are currently available with six dive operators offering dive tours at all of the key dive sites on the north, south and west coasts of the island.
Looking to help out?
Dominica encourages visitors to get involved in meaningful tourism by considering a voluntourism package. These packages are offered to assist Dominica with the cleanup of sites such as the Indian River, dive sites and the Waitukubuli National Trail. Packages are being offered by the Tamarind Tree Hotel, Fort Young Hotel, Secret Bay, Cobra Tours, Cool Breeze Tours and Cabrits Dive.