Costs for the line’s Grand Celebration for 30 days of operations as an emergency relief charter vessel amount to $9m, Port of Palm Beach Chair Katherine Waldron wrote in an appeal to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Waldon noted the long history between Palm Beach County and the Bahamas, with the port the No. 1 export facility for food, home goods, automobiles and construction materials through tenants like Tropical Shipping.
Critical link in the supply chain
‘We are the critical link in the Bahamas-Florida supply chain,’ she said, adding that it’s only natural for the port to continue its historic and expected role to serve as the central staging and shipping point of emergency sustenance and reconstruction supplies to the Bahamas.
The port is designating full-time employees to this effort. It also has designated drop-off and inspection areas to accommodate the dozens of volunteer organizations collecting goods, clothing and food for the Bahamas.
‘However, we are in desperate need of one essential missing element: a vessel to transport the medical, search and rescue and construction volunteers, along with millions of dollars’ worth of items being donated to the relief effort,’ Waldron told the governor.
Cruise line may need to relocate otherwise
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has just demonstrated its ability to serve as that critical missing element via a humanitarian mission, Waldron said. However, the line is unable to continue its Bahamas service without passenger income and plans to relocate to other tourist markets such as Key West, Bimini and the Virgin Islands.
Port would forgo docking, parking, tenant fees
None of the $9m requested would go toward docking, parking or tenant fees usually owed to the port from the cruise line, according to Waldron, adding: The loss of income to the port will be ‘significant, but can be absorbed.’
With millions of dollars being raised to help the Bahamas, if the cost of a charter vessel can be reimbursed by the state, 100% of the monies currently being raised can go to relief efforts, not shipping costs, Waldron said.