Tourism & Cruises

Royal Caribbean cancels stop in Puerto Rico, fearing protests may get worse

Royal Caribbean International canceled one of its cruise ship’s stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday due to ongoing protests against the governor that have roiled the capital city.

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The Port Authority of Puerto Rico announced Tuesday afternoon that the Miami-based cruise corporation had canceled its San Juan port visit. A spokesman for Royal Caribbean confirmed that the ship will be docking in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, instead.

“In light of current unrest in San Juan, Puerto Rico, we have canceled today’s call to San Juan,” said Royal Caribbean spokesman Owen Torres. “Empress of the Seas has been re-routed to Tortola, and our guests will receive refunds for prepaid shore excursions. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will make adjustments as necessary to ensure the safety and security of our guests and crew.”

Empress of the Seas, based in PortMiami, can carry 2,270 passengers. The ship currently is sailing on an eight-day eastern Caribbean cruise with stops including Tortola, and Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the cruise company’s private island in the Bahamas.

According to the Port Authority of Puerto Rico, the ship is currently carrying 1,840 passengers. The ship is scheduled to return to Miami on Sunday.

Calls for the resignation of Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló have intensified in the past several days since hundreds of pages of a profane group chat were leaked and published by the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico. The messages Rosselló exchanged with at least 11 other close aides and cabinet members have also prompted protests in Florida, New York and Washington, D.C.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Old San Juan on Monday evening. Puerto Rican trap music artist Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, also known as Bad Bunny, and rapper René Pérez Joglar, also known as Residente from the group Calle 13, are asking citizens on social media to fill the streets in front of the island’s capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Rosselló said he would not resign and would keep working for the island’s interests.

Another Royal Caribbean ship, Harmony of the Seas, based in Port Canaveral, is scheduled to arrive in San Juan on Wednesday.

A spokesman for Carnival Corporation said it has no changes planned for service to San Juan.

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Taylor Dolven covers the tourism industry at the Miami Herald, where she aims to tell stories about the people who work in tourism and the people who enjoy it. Previously, she worked at Vice News in Brooklyn, NY, where she won a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of NY for a national investigation of police shootings.
Bianca Padró Ocasio is a general assignment reporter for the Miami Herald. She has been a Florida journalist for several years, covering everything from crime and courts to hurricanes and politics. Her bilingual work telling the stories of the Puerto Rican community in Central Florida has been previously recognized by the Florida Society of News Editors and the Florida Sunshine State Awards.