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Cruise industry seeks to reassure worried customers after Caribbean storms

Cruise industry seeks to reassure worried customers after Caribbean storms
The new Carnival Horizon passes Miami Beach on a two-day inaugural cruise this week, as the industry sought to reassure passengers. (Andy Newman / AP)

Last year's disastrous hurricane season, coupled with Hurricane Florence's recent assault on the Carolinas, may be causing vacationers to think twice about booking a cruise in storm-prone regions, particularly the Caribbean.

Cruise industry representatives gathered Thursday to reassure passengers that the region is functional and beautiful, while reminding them that ships can always be rerouted in any future storms.

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The remarks came during a news conference set up by the Florida Caribbean Cruise Assn., a year after the catastrophic 2017 Atlantic storm season that caused thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in damages.

But the torrential rain and flooding brought by Hurricane Florence turned the conversation to the current storm season.

Executives and reps declined to speak specifically about whether there's been a downturn in reservations, choosing instead to reassure potential customers that cruising is safe.

"Carnival has been in the Caribbean for 45 years plus," said Arnold Donald, chief executive of the cruise corporation. "Typhoons and hurricanes are part of the annual weather pattern on the planet. With 106 ships, we're always dealing with it somewhere in the world.”

Cruise ships avoid hurricanes, of course, rerouting to stay out of threatening seas. During Florence's march across the Atlantic, several ships scattered to different ports to miss the storm.

"It's easy for us to move our ships," said Donald. "The Caribbean covers a million square miles and has many destinations."

Adam Goldstein of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. added: "The Caribbean is open for business. Conditions of the ports are excellent. If there are storms, we're in good condition to combat them.”

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