First they sent rescue ships. Now cruise lines plan to give millions to help Caribbean islands recover from Hurricane Irma.
Royal Caribbean International's cruise ships made humanitarian aid trips last week to the hard-hit islands of St. Martin and St. Thomas.
Majesty of the Seas on Monday was scheduled to sail to both destinations. As a result, the cruise line pushed back the departure of a Bahamas cruise until Tuesday and shortened it to three days (stopping at Nassau and the line's private island of Cococay).
"We are sorry for the impact that the storm has had on your vacation, and know you support us in helping those in urgent need," the company told passengers on its website. It also offered a partial refund and/or credit for a future cruise.
In addition, Royal Caribbean will match $1 million in donations to Hurricane Irma relief efforts.
Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison pledged an immediate donation of $2.5 million to relief charities from his family's foundation, according to a news release.
In addition, the company's philanthropic Carnival Foundation and the Miami Heat Charitable Fund (Arison owns the Miami basketball team) pledged to raise a combined $5 million for relief and recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma — and Arison's family foundation will match that amount too. The company owns Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Costa and other lines.
Also, Carnival's cruises over the next several weeks will be bringing much-needed items — water, food, clothing, toiletries and medical supplies — directly or indirectly to destinations wrecked by Irma, including Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos, St. Martin, St. Thomas and Barbuda in the nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
"The question wasn't if we could go, but how fast we could get there." Stuart said on the line's Facebook page.
The cruise lines also have pledged to help the Florida Keys when the area's port reopens.