Hurricanes Irma and Maria have left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean and Florida, prompting concerns about the future of the upcoming superyacht season. With this in mind, YachtCharterFleet takes a look at the popular cruising destinations in the region and reveals why yachting vacations in the region are still possible this winter.
The devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria are undeniable. The category five storms have displaced millions of people and caused billions of dollars worth of damage, with the full extent of the impact yet to be known.
But, while some yachting hotspots in the Caribbean have been badly hit – Anguilla, St Barts, St Martin, and the British Virgin Islands– others have managed to escape relatively unharmed.
This means there is every possibility private charter vacations in the region can continue. Superyacht-goers may just have to reconsider their destination.
There are, of course, other obstacles, such as provisioning, that may need to be overcome but it’s important the Caribbean is still seen as a viable destination to visit this winter.
Often described as “the most tourism-dependent region in the world”, the Caribbean would face further hardship if Hurricane Irma puts vacationers off from visiting, especially as the islands below are open for business.
Hurricane Irma had a relatively minor impact on Antigua and normal activity has returned to the island. The V.C. Bird International Airport opened for all flights on 7th September and many hotels have reported no long-term damage.
In an email, the Antigua Charter Yacht Show detailed that normal operations had resumed for the show’s schedule in December. Although no updates were given on the show venues – Nelson’s Dockyard, the Antigua Yacht Club and Falmouth Harbour Marina – the implication appears to be that the season in the island will be able to progress as usual.
It must be noted that Antigua’s sister island, Barbuda, and its 1,600 residents have been severely impacted by the hurricane, and the country’s disaster recovery plan is in full swing.
Tourism minister Asot Michael said: “The Government will do whatever it takes in the short term to get Barbuda on its feet again. However, the best way to help our islands as we return to normal is for visitors to continue with their vacation plans.”
While badly affected, a significant rebuilding programme is already in operation. The airport is open for business, and the majority of top restaurants and bars will be open.
Whilst the island was badly hit, significant rebuilding is currently taking place, and the yacht harbour is close to operational. The central hub airport is also expected to reopen at the end of October.
On 11th September, it was announced that the islands of the Bahamas were totally unaffected by the hurricane’s wrath, and will be returning to normal operations. The Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau is open again, and hotels and resorts are ready to welcome guests.
There are currently no reports of severe damage to the tourism product throughout the islands and, although assessments are still being made, the available information suggests the Bahamas will be able to welcome superyacht-goers this fall and winter.
Director of tourism Charles Lindo said: “Sint Eustatius was spared the worst of Hurricane Irma”. Although there were a few roofs lost and downed trees, the airport and seaport are both operational again. With this in mind, it can be assumed the idyllic island will be ready to welcome superyachts when the season gets underway.
St Kitts and Nevis
St Kitts and Nevis are virtually unscathed following the passage of Hurricane Irma. Tourism providers and hotels are in the process of reopening, while St Kitts’ Robert L Bradshaw International Airport and Nevis’ Vance W Amory International Airport are already open and accepting flights.
Plus, the marina at Christophe Harbour is open and available to provide fuel for vessels in need as well as berthing services for those displaced by the storm. This points to the federation’s capacity to welcome superyachts for the upcoming winter season.
The US Virgin Islands have advised that a full assessment on the impact of Hurricane Irma is underway and, while St Croix “did not receive the full brunt of the storm” and is getting back on its feet, visitors are being encouraged not to visit St Thomas and St John.
This suggests St Croix will be able to receive charterers for the winter season but its sister islands may not be in such a position. Further updates are required here.
Hurricane Irma hit the north eastern Leeward Islands before making her way to the Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos, Cuba, Bahamas and Florida. This means the southern Caribbean islands escaped the storm and its destruction, with many of habours expected to be open this winter.
These islands, although not as popular as the Leeward Islands, still offer wonderful cruising opportunities for those after sun, sea and laidback Caribbean rhythms, and the winter season will surely be going ahead as planned here.
The hurricane season is still not over and, as only a week has passed since Irma first hit, it’s still too early to assess the whole extent of its impact. Yet, there are positive reports that suggest the yachting season in the Caribbean will be able to go ahead.
For further information, please speak to your preferred charter broker.
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