In the wake of disaster, one cruise company is leading the way toward rebuilding a better Caribbean.
BY CLARA WOODBRIDGE
The one-two punch of Irma and Mariaâ€”the two Category Five hurricanes that swept through the Caribbean and Florida within days of each other in 2017â€”still ricochets throughout the island stoday. From the Keys all the way down to Antigua, the last 16 months have become an unprecedented era of rebuilding for tens of thousands who call these idyllic isles home, as well as the hotels and resorts that drive their local economies. But from this story of devastation comes proof that amazing things can happen in the face of adversity. Help turns up in unexpected places. People band together to support othersâ€”even when they themselves are in need. And kindness becomes the greatest currency of all.
Help turns up in unexpected places. People band together to support others. And kindness becomes the greatest currency of all.
It was under these circumstances that Norwegian Help turns up Cruise Line Holdings, Ltd. â€” the company behind some of in unexpected the worldâ€™s most spectacular cruises, including Regent places. People Seven Seas CruisesÂ®â€”decided band together to lead by example. Just days after the now-infamous pair to support of hurricanes devastated others. And more than a dozen islands and caused billions of dollars in kindness collective damage, the company announced Hope Starts Here, a hurricane-relief program with a goal to raise $2.5 million for the reconstruction of primary schools throughout the Caribbean islands.
But it wasnâ€™t enough to simply ask for contributions, says Nelson Fraga, Norwegianâ€™s Senior Manager of Employee Engagement and Community Relations. Norwegian pledged to match every donation it received, dollar for dollar. And just three months after the launch of Hope Starts Here, the campaign reached its goal of $2.5 million, making it the largest fundraiser in the cruise companyâ€™s 53-year history. The first round of those donations went to immediate relief in Floridaâ€™s Key Westâ€”â€śWe also wanted to help the people in our own backyard,â€ť Fraga saysâ€”while the rest was earmarked for the noble cause of reconstructing schools on St. Maarten, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands, which were among the hardest hit territories.
Last October, the first of those schools opened its doors on the BVI mainland of Tortola. Of course, thereâ€™s more to be done. Additional schools are currently under construction in St. Thomas and St. Maarten, and plans for even more are being reviewed. â€śWeâ€™ve done our share of fundraising at Norwegian in the past, but nothing to this level,â€ť he says. â€śPeople really rallied behind us because they knew it was the right thing to do, and that gave us an incredible sense of validation. It made it all worth itâ€”and itâ€™s something weâ€™ll be able to point to for a very, very long time.â€ť
Just three months after the launch of Hope Starts Here, the campaign reached its goal of $2.5 million, making it the largest fundraiser in Norwegianâ€™s 53-year history.
THE CALL OF THE CARIBBEAN
This year, the Caribbean is having a serious comeback, and Regent Seven Seas CruisesÂ® has planned three unique cruises to the area, all of which celebrate and showcase the finest in island living. The “Pink Sands & Crystal Seas” cruise aboard the Seven Seas NavigatorÂ® is bookended in New York and Miami, with ports including St. Barts, Antigua, Saint Lucia, and Bonaire. Visit the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda, which, in addition to capturing island history, also offers an exhibition of semiprecious stones. While visiting Castries, the capital of St. Lucia, travelers to the Castries Waterworks Forest Reserve get a rare glimpse of rainforest flora and fauna, while adventurers can hike up to Fort Charlotte on Morne Fortune.
While traveling aboard the Seven Seas ExplorerÂ® on the “Champagne Toasts & Caribbean Dreams” cruise, travelers begin and end in Miami, with indelible stops in Costa Maya, Mexico; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Roatan, Honduras, among others. Experience highlights include diving the coral reefs of Roatan, taking a boat ride through the Tortuguero Canals in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, and following the footsteps of Christopher Columbus while exploring George Town on the Cayman Islands. Regardless which cruise is preferred, Regent Seven Seas CruisesÂ® ensures guests will leave with a newfound respect for the Caribbean’s most influential and authentic island outposts.
Experience the best of the Caribbean with Regent Seven Seas CruisesÂ®.