Royal Caribbean International has announced the cruise line's return to San Juan, Puerto Rico and Philipsburg, St. Maarten marking a major milestone towards the revival of these Caribbean gems which were impacted by recent hurricanes. On Nov. 30, Freedom of the Seas will be the first ship in the fleet to call on San Juan, Puerto Rico, arriving with approximately 3,782 visitors to the island that is renowned for its passionate, welcoming spirit. Grandeur of the Seas will follow suit on Dec. 17 as the first cruise ship to sail into, St. Maarten since Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas arrived to provide humanitarian relief last month. This announcement comes on the heels of Royal Caribbean's recent news that Adventure of the Seas will be the first ship to call on St. Thomas on Nov. 10.
"Royal Caribbean is encouraged by the commendable progress that has been made by the governments of Puerto Rico and St. Maarten towards the recovery of these destinations and it means a lot to us that we are heading back home. We have been part of the Caribbean community for almost 50 years, and for all of us it has been paramount that we focus on supporting our long-standing partners—who feel more like family after so many years," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Supporting these destinations that are so reliant on tourism is key to the future of the islands and the best thing we—as travelers and businesses—can do for the islands."
Working closely with the governments of Puerto Rico and St. Maarten, and local businesses, Royal Caribbean will be able to offer destination experiences that will allow guests to enjoy the natural beauty, historic landmarks and culture of these idyllic islands. With power and transportation on track to be readily available in San Juan by Nov. 30, guests can tour the city by foot, bike, Segway or bus; explore the epic fortresses of El Morro and San Cristobal in Old San Juan; spend the day on the beach at VIVO Beach Club; or admire the countryside through Cueva Ventana—the Window Cave—which sits atop an 800-foot limestone cliff.
Similarly, the return of power and water to most of St. Maarten means that a majority of the shops, restaurants and bars, and tour operators around Philipsburg will be fully operational for guests to experience a diverse and extensive array of dining, shopping and activities in the area. The sun and vistas of the region's best beaches, Great Bay Beach and Kimshaw Beach, will be a beacon for guests wanting to dive into the turquoise blue waters and admire the sea life, whether by boat or catamaran, or from the relaxing comfort of a beach lounger.
As of Nov. 30, all scheduled calls to San Juan and St. Thomas across 10 ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet will operate as planned—including calls from the world's largest cruise ships each sailing with nearly 6,000 new visitors each week—Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Harmony of the Seas. The scheduled visits to St. Maarten will operate as planned starting on Dec. 17 with the exception of Oasis of the Seas, which will make its first call to the island on January 1 during her New Year's Eve cruise. Additionally, the global cruise line will return to St. Croix on January 8 with the arrival of Jewel of the Seas, which will sail from San Juan. All calls to Dominica are cancelled through June 2018 and the cruise line is working closely with the local government on a return date to the destination.
For additional information on Royal Caribbean's newly updated Caribbean itineraries, visit RoyalCaribbean.com.