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St. Maarten's first ship back: Grandeur, and RCI to resume all San Juan calls

Michael Bayley - 'Supporting these destinations that are so reliant on tourism is key to the future of the islands and the best thing we, as travelers and businesses, can do for the islands' Michael Bayley - 'Supporting these destinations that are so reliant on tourism is key to the future of the islands and the best thing we, as travelers and businesses, can do for the islands'

On Dec. 17 Royal Caribbean International's Grandeur of the Seas is scheduled to become the first cruise ship to call at St. Maarten since Hurricane Irma, apart from a humanitarian relief mission by Majesty of the Seas last month.

The company also said it will resume all calls at San Juan, starting Nov. 30 with Freedom of the Seas.

This announcement comes on the heels of Royal Caribbean's recent news that Adventure of the Seas will be the first ship to return to St. Thomas, post-hurricanes, on Nov. 10.

'Royal Caribbean is encouraged by the commendable progress that has been made by the governments of Puerto Rico and St. Maarten towards the recovery of these destinations and it means a lot to us that we are heading back home. We have been part of the Caribbean community for almost 50 years, and for all of us it has been paramount that we focus on supporting our long-standing partners—who feel more like family after so many years,' RCI president and CEO Michael Bayley said.

'Supporting these destinations that are so reliant on tourism is key to the future of the islands and the best thing we, as travelers and businesses, can do for the islands.'

Working closely with the governments of Puerto Rico and St. Maarten, and local businesses, Royal Caribbean said it will be able to offer experiences that allow passengers to savor the natural beauty, historic landmarks and culture of these islands.

With power and transportation on track to be readily available in San Juan by Nov. 30, passengers can tour the city by foot, bike, Segway or bus. They also can explore the fortresses of El Morro and San Cristobal in Old San Juan, spend the day on the beach at VIVO Beach Club or admire the countryside through Cueva Ventana (Window Cave), which sits atop an 800-foot limestone cliff.

Similarly, the return of power and water to most of St. Maarten means that a majority of the shops, restaurants and bars, as well as tour operators around Philipsburg, will be fully operational, Royal Caribbean said. Great Bay Beach and Kimshaw Beach will ready for passengers to explore, whether by boat or catamaran, or from a lounge chair.

As of Nov. 30, all scheduled calls to San Juan and St. Thomas across 10 ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet will operate as planned—including calls from the world's largest cruise ships, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas.

The scheduled visits to St. Maarten will operate as planned starting on Dec. 17 with the exception of Oasis of the Seas, which will make its first call to the island on Jan. 1 during its New Year's Eve cruise.

Additionally, Royal Caribbean will return to St. Croix on Jan. 8 with the arrival of Jewel of the Seas, which will sail from San Juan.

All calls to Dominica are canceled through June 2018 and the cruise line is working closely with the local government on a return date to the destination.

Posted 25 October 2017

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Anne Kalosh

US editor of Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Cruise News

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