By Rosanne Coloccia
Preferred Travel Services
Their names have been on our screens for weeks: Harvey. Irma. Maria. Powerful storms, each leaving damage and destruction, in his or her wake.
With the storm season in full swing - and three major hurricanes in four weeks definitely counts as full swing - the situation on the ground on some of the islands of the Caribbean is changing hour by hour, day by day. And yet…
Many islands haven’t been affected at all, but, hey, let’s be honest, it’s only natural to paint with a broad brush sometimes, thinking the entire region has been damaged.
Fortunately, that’s not the case. Many islands are open for business and welcoming guests, but are having a difficult time making that known when our attention is obviously - and rightly - focused elsewhere.
So should you cancel that long awaited beach getaway or holiday cruise? Hopefully, no. For the vast majority of the Caribbean, tourism is their main - or only - “industry,” so the island nations most affected are all scrambling to get hotels, restaurants, and tour operations back online as quickly as they’re able.
For those of you with vacations and cruises planned to this region in the next few months, and into 2018, let’s take a look at the latest reports from the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, as of September 22nd, 2017:
Business as Usual - all airports and resorts open
Heavily Affected - resorts damaged, some closed
Puerto Rico - power grid destroyed for this popular vacation and cruise destination. Airport open on back-up power, for military and emergency flights only.
British Virgin Islands - some resorts already closed for the season will remain closed until November. Others will open in mid-October or November.
St. Thomas, USVI - most major resorts closed until at least mid-October, likely much longer.
St. John, USVI - hotels closed until further notice.
Dominica - heavily damaged by Maria.
St. Martin/St. Maarten - heavy damage. May take up to a year for hotels to reopen.
Somewhere in Between
Anguilla - airport open, most resorts open before the end of October.
Antigua and Barbuda - In this two-island nation, Antigua was barely touched, while Barbuda was heavily damaged. The vast majority of the hotels are on Antigua, so you should be able to go.
St. Barthelemy - airport open, most hotels to reopen by late October.
Turks and Caicos - most all hotels will be reopen in October, with others reopening by mid-December for the very popular holiday season.
For the most up-to-date information, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association is a terrific resource: http://www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/knowledge-center/hurricane-center/
Something else to keep in mind - cruise lines have been modifying their itineraries, particularly Eastern Caribbean sailings. If you’re traveling before the end of November, you’ll want to check in with your travel agent, or with the cruise line directly, to see if your itinerary has been modified to accommodate the port facilities on some of the harder hit islands.
And let’s not forget our friends closer to home - the resorts and beaches of Florida. Despite Irma, a vast majority of resorts on both coasts were only slightly damaged by the storm and have already reopened.
The storm season is technically June 1 - November 30, while the most active time historically is the last half of August, the month of September, and into October. Fingers crossed we’ve seen the worst of it, but we’re not quite out of the woods yet.
You may remember Rosanne Coloccia as "the travel lady" on KTVK's top-rated Good Morning Arizona, where she brought you travel tips and destination information for more than 14 years. She is delighted to once again be part of the travel industry that she loves, and Preferred Travel Services is more than delighted to have her on our team.