Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hurricane Dean's Hits & Misses

Even as Hurricane Dean began pounding Mexico's Yucatan, locals in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands were breathing a sign of relief after enduring the uncertainty of a direct hit themselves. It remains to be seen how Mexico fares, but Jamaica and Grand Cayman plan to welcome cruise ships back as early as this week. Freedom of the Seas is slated to dock in Ocho Rios tomorrow.

While some cruise ports fared better than expected, Seatrade Insider reports that communications are still out in the area of Costa Maya, Mexico. Packing maximum sustained winds of 165 mph, Hurricane Dean roared ashore at the nearby fishing village of Majahual. Much of the mostly-rural area was evacuated before the Category 5 storm arrived.

Meanwhile, Bahamas tourism officials declared the diversion of seven cruise ships to Nassau to be an unexpected economic boon to their sagging economy. Due to itinerary changes, the Bahamas Journal reports that the arrival of nearly 18,000 cruise passengers is expected to bring in not only $15 per passenger in government taxes, but also an average of $73.50 per passenger in spending once ashore. The hurricane windfall (pardon the expression) could mean as much as $1.49 million to the island. Even a scheduled temporary four-day closure of Nassau's downtown Straw Market for a general cleaning was postponed to allow vendors to capitalize on the unexpected surge of cruise ship passengers.

For a list of itinerary alterations: see Cruise Diva's Special Hurricane Report

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