Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Cruise Giants Aid Rebuilding Caribbean As Hurricane Irma Winds Down To Support The Caribbean Destinations

As Hurricane Irma winds down, the cruise industry looks not only to rebound its business but also aid the regions most devastated by the storm. The big three: Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Limited and Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited are all in hurricane relief mode.
As of Sunday, Carnival Cruise Line’s latest website update recognizes the continued closure of the Floridian departure points PortMiami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral and the Port of Tampa.

In the meantime, the company is already working to support the Caribbean destinations hit hard over the last several days as well as Florida directly and via its charitable Carnival Foundation: "Deliveries will be worked into ships’ cruise itineraries as part of our ongoing operations. And, as we await news of the full impact that Irma will have on Florida, we stand ready to provide support, as needed, to affected ports and communities.”

The plan is to provide immediate and long-term support, and Carnival is in contact with Caribbean officials to best implement a strategy. Norwegian Cruise Line is also doing its part to help evacuate travelers from St. Thomas, according to a press release.

The Norwegian Sky will come to the aid of those who could not get off the island before the storm arrived. The ship is scheduled to arrive late this evening to help in the effort being organized by the government of St. Thomas. Norwegian Sky is then expected to leave with the rescued and arrive back in its homeport of Miami on Thursday, September 14.

Similar to Carnival, Royal Caribbean International says on its website that the company is mobilizing supplies. It is deploying ships to St. Thomas and St. Maarten in conjunction with U.S. and regional governments. It is standing by to assist Key West and other destinations as well.
Adventure of the Seas headed to help St. Maarten on Sunday while Majesty of the Seas is also calling on St. Thomas and St. Maarten with supplies. The latter ship is additionally charged with safely evacuating people from St. Maarten. The Empress of the Seas is ready to assist Key West as needed too.

No doubt, all of these efforts will be crucially important to the recovery of the Caribbean region. Rather than have ships sit idly in limbo as passenger sailings are necessarily canceled, it’s wonderful to see the cruise lines put their equipment to such admirable use. How quickly the cruise industry will again become fully operational from Florida is still to be determined, especially seeing how badly flooded the Miami area around its port was during the storm.

The PortMiami website currently reads, “Ports and waterfront facilities shall remain closed to waterfront activities until the passage of tropical storm force winds and the COTP, in conjunction with the SWAT has determined it is safe to reopen the port.”
Once it does, Caribbean destinations themselves will be affected for awhile.
Royal Caribbean’s website indicates, “Given Hurricane Irma's impact to St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Key West, we will be working on alternative ports for future sailings until these islands have fully recovered.”

This leads me to reiterate my previous idea. Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand is purpose-built to combine passenger sailings with volunteer opportunities. It may no longer have its own Adonia to dedicate to the Dominican Republic, but it could potentially send one of the ships from its nine other brands to affected areas with hundreds or even thousands of willing participants onboard.
It could be the perfect interim solution for ships gearing back up to full service—from any cruise corporation really—to specifically head to the islands hit hardest during the hurricane. Cruise travelers and volunteers assemble!

Scotland Voted World's Most Beautiful Country

The votes have been counted and Scotland has been pronounced as the most beautiful country in the world by the readers of Rough Guides.
Yes, this small nation—known for having a landscape loaded with alluring lochs and rugged islands—beat out bigger countries like Canada, New Zealand and Italy to grab the crown.

Lots of Lochs
Readers surely took into consideration the countless lakes—called lochs in this neck of the woods—that stretch across the Scottish countryside. The lochs are the result of ancient glaciers and today stand as an awesome example of how truly gorgeous geology can be.
Loch Ness is the poster child for Scottish lochs. This enchanting body of water holds the most water of any in Scotland, and while it may be most famous for the mysterious monster which may (or may not) live in its depths, its beauty is definitely real.
Loch Morar is the deepest of the lochs in Scotland while Loch Duich is home to a “straight from the silver screen” island castle called Eilean Dona.
Majestic Mountains
While Scotland will never be confused with Switzerland (which landed in 15th place), it still packs a punch when it comes to pinnacles.
Misty and moody Ben Nevis checks in at just over 4,400 feet high, making it the tallest peak in the United Kingdom and a very popular day hike location. The Cairngorms range is full of rolling mountains and assorted natural attractions, with the town of Aviemore being its active sports base.

Fair Islands
Voters were also most likely swayed by Scotland's spectacular collection of islands. Numbering around 800, these beauties are home to miles of windswept beaches and some serious serenity.
The Isle of Skye is probably the star of Scottish islands, as it is home to a dramatic landscape of spiky mountains, heather-covered moors and colorfully-painted villages. The island of Islay boasts the sweeping sands of Killinallan Beach in addition to some of the smokiest and peatiest whisky on the planet.
And if you are really up for some off-the-beaten-path island adventure, head ferry up to Fair Isle and the rest of the Shetland Islands, with their rocky cliffs, seabirds & flowers and unique traditions.
Sky Full of Stars
Some voters must have also been aware of Scotland's nocturnal beauty. Even after the sun goes down, the sights are still out of this world. That's because Scotland has some of the largest swaths of dark sky in all of Europe.
Each evening, they put on a stellar performance.
The country is home to Europe's second official Dark Sky Park—Galloway Forest Park—which is located only a 90-minute drive from Glasgow. On the outskirts of the park, you will find the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, whose facilities are open to the public and are certain to enhance your stargazing experience.

Stargazers will be blown away by how much is visible in the Scottish sky and, if you are lucky, you may even spot the Northern Lights dancing across the horizon.
The rest of the top 20 in the competition were as follows:
20. Vietnam
19. Croatia
18. Ireland
17. Norway
16. Peru
15. Switzerland
14. Finland
13. India
12. Mexico
11. Slovenia
10. Wales
9. U.S.A
8. Iceland
7. England
6. Indonesia
5. South Africa
4. Italy
3. New Zealand
2. Canada

Monday, September 11, 2017

Delta Flight 302 Departed San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin International Airport Got in and Out Right Before Irma

A Delta Air Lines flight flew into San Juan, Puerto Rico and then changed course to New York City all while Hurricane Irma was bearing down on the Caribbean island Wednesday afternoon.

According to data from flight-tracking website FlightAware.com, Delta Flight 431 departed New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport shortly after 8 a.m. ET and arrived in San Juan at noon.
Just 40 minutes later, Delta Flight 302 departed San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin International Airport with 173 passengers before ultimately arriving safely back at JFK at 4:22 p.m.
Flight radar captured the incredible path of both flights, which managed to narrowly avoid the Category 5 storm's powerful core.
While seemingly risky, Delta says that both flights were instead well calculated.
"Our meteorology team is the best in the business," said Delta's vice president of operations and customer center, Erik Snell, via The Washington Post. "They took a hard look at the weather data and the track of the storm and worked with the flight crew and dispatcher to agree it was safe to operate the flight."
"Our flight and ground crews were incredible in their effort to turn the aircraft quickly and safely so the flight could depart well before the hurricane threat."
According to the Post, the 28 mph winds and gusts up to 36 mph in San Juan Wednesday afternoon were well below operating limits for the Boeing 737.
Nonetheless, Wednesday's Delta flight was the last in and out of San Juan before conditions began to worsen and air traffic control ceased operations at the airport.