Puerto Rico Officials Weigh Cruise Plans Amid Protests

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is juggling multiple scenarios to manage its cruise traffic in the near future as protests in San Juan have led to a handful of cancelled cruise calls in what is predicted to be a record cruise year for the island. 

According to a statement, Sunday’s homeporting operations for the Freedom of the Seas and Carnival Fascination will take place as planned, following a meeting with the Costanera Guard, the National Parks Service, the port authority, the Transportation and Public Services Bureau, the police, emergency management and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC).

“(These calls) will generate an economic impact of $1.3 million. During the past two weeks we have remained attentive and in constant conversation with the cruise lines to coordinate the scheduled stops. Both the cruise lines and the Tourism Company seek to maintain as many stops as possible while at the same time ensuring the safety and experience of the visitor in the destination,” said Carla Campos, executive director, Puerto Rico Tourism Company.

Recent cancellations include the MSC Seaside and Celebrity Equinox which will not be calling on Monday, July 22, as previously scheduled.

Tourism officials said the lost economic impact would be $439,000 from the MSC Seaside call and $311,000 from the Celebrity Equinox.

Officials, however, noted that they offered multiple alternatives to cruise lines.

For example, the Pan-American Wharf was presented as another berth option, with a depth of 32 feet. Officials, said, however, that some ships require 34 feet of water depth making the Wharf unviable.

Ponce has also been floated as an alternative port, and has previously hosted cruise ships. Tourism officials said that due to the location of Ponce, ships would arrive in the evening and would only be able to stay a few hours.

“Most of the cruise ships that arrive at the port of San Juan leave from Miami where they board their passengers, and then arrive on the island (Puerto Rico) in the afternoon of their third day of sailing. To deviate to Ponce would imply that they would arrive at night (between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm) and would have to set sail at dawn (between 1:00 am and 2:00 am) to arrive at their next destination the following morning. Therefore, this has not been a feasible alternative for three of the four ships that have canceled their stops,” officials said.

In addition, Ponce has an ongoing cargo business, and has a cement-carrying vessel in port for the next week.

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