As a frequent cruiser for many years, I was heartsick to see the damage done to the islands of the Caribbean by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. While I’ve made some donations to various organizations that have been helping with cleanup, I’ve been thinking for a while that I wanted to do something more to help these places as they recover.
Tourism is a major industry for the Caribbean, as it is for the Florida Keys, which were also devastated by Hurricane Irma. If I can be nerdy for a minute, I was shocked to read that economists have estimated that a 1% drop in tourism can lead to a decline of over $200 million in GDP for the Caribbean.
I’m not going to be able to make up for that drop by myself, of course, but I’d like to do my part to help the Keys and the Caribbean by doing what I do best: Traveling to these places, spending my tourist dollars, and of course – writing about them for the blog!
So, on February 19th, I’m going to head down to the Florida Keys for a few days of exploring — and contributing to the local economy. I’ve been to Key West several times on cruise ships, and while I’ll certainly spend some of my time (and money) there as well, I’m excited to finally explore the middle and upper parts of the Keys – and to help give back to some of the small business owners in the hardest-hit areas.
Then, I’ll head back up to Fort Lauderdale to board the February 25th sailing of Celebrity Silhouette, which makes stops in San Juan, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten – three of the islands that have been hardest hit by the hurricanes. I’m pleased to be sailing on Celebrity, whose parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, played a huge role in helping these islands’ recovery, both in the immediate aftermath of the storms and by bring passengers back in the long term.
(My hubby has graciously agreed to escape the somewhat-chilly North Carolina winters to accompany me on this mission. Am I a lucky gal, or what? 🙂
You can read more here about how you can get involved in my trip. And of course, look for a bunch of blog posts coming at the end of February so you can follow along with my journey!