One month and a half after Hurricane Dorian pummeled Grand Bahama, South Florida cruise companies are beginning to return to the island.
Carnival Cruise Line will be the first major cruise company to resume visits to Freeport, the island’s capital, on Friday, Oct. 11, with its Carnival Pride ship from Baltimore. Carnival Elation, from Port Canaveral, and Carnival Freedom, from Galveston, Texas, will follow, docking in Freeport on Sunday and Tuesday.
The Category 5 hurricane, which struck in early September, was the strongest hurricane on record to hit the Bahamas, destroying entire communities in Grand Bahama and Abaco islands. Sixty-one people have died because of the hurricane, according to the government’s most recent count, and hundreds of people are still missing. Last week the Bahamas government announced it will start to deport undocumented Haitians who survived the storm.
At the same time, the country’s tourism industry is working to bring back the visitors on which it depends.
“The rebuilding of Grand Bahama has begun,” said Senator James Kwasi Malik Thompson, minister of state for Grand Bahama, in a statement about Carnival’s return.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line was the first to resume its regular service — round-trip travel from Palm Beach to Grand Bahama — on Friday, Sept. 27.
Carnival said 15 shore excursions for the company’s passengers are being offered in Grand Bahama, marking the start of the tourism industry’s resurgence there. Four tours to the island’s East End, which sustained the most damage, are still unavailable.
By the end of 2019, Carnival said it expects its ships to visit Freeport 39 times.
Royal Caribbean Cruises said the company plans to return to Grand Bahama in 2020, but doesn’t have a specific date scheduled. Norwegian Cruise Line did not respond to comment about when the company will return, but its website shows cruises to Grand Bahama are available starting in January 2020.
This story has been updated to include information about Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, which returned to Grand Bahama on Sept. 27.