I recently spent a week in the Bahamas with my family. We stayed in Chub Cay, which is in the Berry Islands chain, and we took our boat out daily to fish, dive, and visit other islands in the chain. It was a wonderful, relaxing trip and I came back with a great tan! I am not typing this blog just to reminisce about the sunny days and turquoise waters; rather, I am writing this because one of the anomalies of my week in the Bahamas was the sheer number of cruise ships that we saw among the islands! While it is not uncommon to see cruise liners at and near larger Bahamian islands like New Providence (home of Nassau-Paradise Island), it definitely seemed odd to see 16 at a time hovering around the little Berry Islands.
Of course we all know that the cruise lines were shut down during the Coronavirus Pandemic. At the onset of the crisis, the world watched as infected passengers and crew were stranded on cruise ships around the world, then on March 14, 2020 all cruise lines suspended departures from the United States, a crippling blow to the industry. Those massive ships, truly floating cities, have been stripped down to skeleton crews since then. You might think that they have been docked at ports for all of this time, but because of the nature of the vessels, they really must keep moving in order to remain functional – resting is rusting, one might say. This is why the ships keep sailing, and why our family encountered so many of them during our time in the Bahamas.
The good news for the cruise lines is that they are starting to set sail again! This is wonderful for Miami and Ft. Lauderdale as well, as our cities are homes of two of the biggest cruise ports in the world and cruising represents a $9 billion industry down here. That’s huge! Ships from Royal Caribbean and MSC have been cleared to sail from PortMiami, and Celebrity will set sail from Port Everglades this month! This will bring tourists to South Florida, spurring the economy by staying in hotels, renting cars, going out to eat, shopping, and by bringing cruise ship workers back to town. While some people are hesitant to cruise in this age of Covid, I have heard that the ships are filling up – what a relief after over a year without one of our biggest revenue makers here in South Florida!