Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe on Tuesday stopped short of saying The Bahamas benefited from a cruise ship that was forced to dock in Freeport after catching fire. But, he did note that a Grand Bahama hotel, taxi drivers and tour operators were called upon to provide services to distressed cruise ship visitors.
The blaze broke out Monday on board the Grandeur of the Seas, a 916-foot long Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) ship.
The 916-foot-long ship was en route to Coco Cay when a fire occurred in its mooring area, the company said in a statement.
The fire was extinguished two hours later and all passengers and crew were safe. However, the rest of the trip was cancelled.
“[That was] most unfortunate for the Grandeur of the Seas and for RCCL, but we were alerted of the situation [Monday] afternoon and into the evening our team was working first of all to ensure those persons who could not remain on the vessel were assisted with accommodations and they went to Pelican Bay,” Minister Wilchcombe said in an interview outside Cabinet yesterday.
“Some remained on the vessel. Of course we arranged transportation along with the cruise line to ensure that both the taxi union and also one of the tour companies, Forbes, they were collecting the passengers, getting them to the airports, getting them on charters and getting them back to Denver.”
He continued, “I think what [this incident] demonstrated was that we’re partners with the cruise lines and that if they are facing difficulties [just like] when we are facing difficulties, we’ve got to work through situations together. But, it also demonstrated that our team is always ready and that Bahamians always rise to the occasion.”
The incident aboard the Grandeur is just the latest in a string of bad news for the cruise industry.
In March, 108 people fell sick with a gastrointestinal illness on a RCCL ship.
“Circumstances happen; you don’t know why, but when they happen it’s how you respond to them and I think our team in Grand Bahama . . . did an excellent job,” said Minister Wilchcombe.