Hurricane Irma – A “What if?”

Just 22 months ago, I was walking the streets of St. Thomas and St. Maarten, as our family joined together on a cruise to celebrate my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. I’ve been in tears the past couple days, seeing the devastation of places I recognize and connect with so many special memories and people we met on the islands. It’s so difficult to truly imagine what they must be going through, and with so much destruction in Texas, the islands, what ever is about to happen in Florida… and now a serious earthquake in Mexico… so much help needed in so many places! It’s absolutely overwhelming.

So I’ve come up with a wonderful idea.

Today in my email, I received a badly timed ad from Holland America suggesting I might like to go on a nice little cruise to St. Thomas and St. Maarten in a month or two. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really think they are going to be up to having visitors in the near future. However, many of these islands depend on tourism as their primary industry. And if you look at the cruise itineraries, it’s clear to see that it’s a symbiotic relationship, especially during winter in the northern hemisphere.

So, what if?

What if each and every cruise line that sails the Caribbean would donate one big ship for the space of maybe 2-4 weeks to help out? Each could sail with about 1000 volunteers, rounded up from their own employees, passengers, mailing lists, social media… people who are ready, willing, and able to work at cleaning up, repairing, and rebuilding? Each ship could choose a port and arrive with 1000 volunteers who won’t need housing on the devastated island. Once on the site, the remaining rooms could be filled with local people who desperately need food and shelter. During daylight hours, the able-bodied locals, any spare crew, and the volunteers all work toward restoration, and at night they are able to return to the ship for meals and accommodations. Food would not need to be “normal” cruise fare. In fact, most of the ships we’ve been on lately serve a perfectly good buffet for all three meals, which would be quite adequate.

This seems like a win win win situation. Locals would have safe temporary housing and much needed help, and hopefully a much more livable and visitable town after a couple thousand people have worked there for a few weeks. The cruise line would have built good will both with the island and former and future passengers, as they surely would receive major media coverage, as well as tooting their own horns via email to their entire customer base. Additionally, they would be that much closer to having a favorite stop ready again for “company.” Volunteers would have the opportunity to help in a much needed project, feel fantastic about their contribution, and get a “free cruise” so to speak, as they worked hard by day, but were able to relax at night in a safe and secure environment.

I’m sure that in this day and age, there are regulations that would have to be dealt with, and it would require someone with skill and vision to make an operation like this happen, but no one can convince me that it’s something that could not be done if the right people wanted badly enough to make it happen. So, Holland America, Princess, Celebrity, Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, and all the rest of you, how about it?

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Published in: on September 9, 2017 at 5:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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