MSC Cruises, the Italian company, took a very uninspired decision to harbour in the British Virgin Isles, three months only after the worst catastrophe in their history, the hurricane Irma.
Other cruise ships changed their course to the less affected islands in the area, ours did not.
Was it good or bad for the people living in Tortola Island? 🤔
Imagine close to 3000 people getting off the cruise ship in their vacation mood and dresses and walking through the devastated buildings and cars, mingling with the locals.
We know this is a controversial discussion, and we will put here our point of view after actually being there and sadly didn’t felt we helped those people in any way.
Nobody was happy, nor the tourist, nor the locals. Maybe only some taxi drivers, ready to make a buck.
There was no public transportation on the island, after half a hour waiting in the sun and asking locals, we barely found a van for locals willing to take us further on the east side of the island. The driver was kind enough to take us on a trip through the coast and to share with us the magnitude of the disaster that recently happened. They were really scared, people died.
The images, after three months after are still devastating
Most of the cars had their windows destroyed by the presure of the +200 miles wind per hour, many boats were torn apart, houses and schools completely destroyed.
The atmosphere on the island was really not that good, even though it was a sunny day. We had the feeling not being welcomed, and is normal to be like this, those people have real problems to figure out, definitely not in the mood for cheering tourists.
We talked for an hour with another local on their experience through those hard times and understand more. Happily, they received help from Great Britain, financial support from other countries and companies who are reconstructing now the roads and buildings.
People could not spend money on the island as there were extremely limited services. We looked for a place to stay, eat, it was only one restaurant. After asking locals, we discovered a supermarket, it was temporary functioning on a different building as the main one was destroyed so you couldn’t tell that is a supermarket. We took some snacks and refreshments, and that was our only small contribution to the local economy unfortunately…
Most of the people from the cruise had already booked trips from the tours office of the cruise. All the tours options included actually a boat trip to the nearby two British Virgin Isles, not affected by Irma and beach time there. Except for the dismal scenery that the hurricane had left in its wake, the boat ride was actually enjoyable, and which, to an extent encouraged me to reach to a trolling battery advisor to equip my boat back home with some good tech. So…the conclusion here is that the MSC Cruises had some good income selling hundreds of tours to a “nice beach”, while anchored on Tortola, and no real benefits for the locals living there.
On the other hand, the tourists left from the island with really bad memories and impressions that will affect on long term the attractivity of the island. Bad (undeserved) reviews, word of mouth, don’t go there now is not nice”, “nothing to do” etc will not help!!
We talked with the people and they weren’t happy either to have a bunch of thousands of tourists partying after they just buried their relatives.
Yes, we agree the island needs help from the tourists, but not at this point. People on the cruise did not spend at all money there because you couldn’t! Some stayed in the ship, some people took a boat and went to other small islands/beach nearby, the 10% that went on the island didn’t helped at all. We looked for half a hour only for a open place to buy a water.
So, we wonder, what was the actual benefit of the cruise stopping there ?
Yes, it was a unwanted back to reality experience for the cruise passengers and the same for locals who didn’t benefit much from it.
When the island will be ready to receive people’s cruises help or money, yes it will be great. But I think they still need some months.
For us it was a great experience, we are always more interested in the authentic life than anything but felt unhappy not helping more with this cruise stop.
They are recovering slowly, but Irma left a great mark on the island and on people’s souls
What’s your opinion on this? Tell us on the comments section. Thank you!