By Alistair Smout (Reuters) - On Friday, a cruise ship carrying around 3,000 passengers will dock at St. John's harbor in the Caribbean island of Antigua. It will not be where the passengers expected to land when they booked, however. The Carnival Plc ship was meant to dock in Saint Martin, 100 miles (160 km) to the northwest. However, Hurricane Irma devastated the island, wrecking its port and infrastructure, and leaving it out of bounds for tourists. Antiguan officials now expect the Carnival Fascination to visit every Friday, and have gotten about 25 calls from major cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Norwegian Cruise Lines looking to make stops through the end of the year. For Asot Michael, Antigua and Barbuda's minister for tourism, the unexpected arrival of thousands of tourists is a bittersweet bonus. "We are going to be benefiting. I don't want to benefit from others' misfortune after such a disaster," Michael said. "But because the port is so damaged in Saint Martin, so damaged in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, we're getting some of those cancellations. Those cruise lines now are making ports of call into Antigua." Hurricane Irma left behind a stark divide in the Caribbean ahead of the winter tourism season that is the region's economic lifeblood. As travel to the region picks up again, cruise lines, hotels, airlines and other companies are directing customers to places that are able to host them, and away from the worst-hit areas. Popular winter vacation spots such as Saint Martin, the British Virgin Islands and Saint Barthelemy that were devastated by the storm could be sidelined for weeks or months. In 2016, 29.3 million tourists visited the Caribbean and spent $35.5 billion, both new records, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. “For Saint Martin and Saint Bart, the holiday season looks very compromised," said Jean-Pierre Mas, chairman of French travel agency federation SNAV. "My sentiment is that the winter season is lost. Decisions to book for the winter season are taken right now." Busy tourist destinations in the western Caribbean, such as Barbados and Trinidad, were well away from the path of the storm. Cozumel, on Mexico's Gulf Coast, got four additional visits this week as ships were rerouted to avoid the storm's impact, although Cozumel tourism officials said three cruises were canceled. Florida, which was anticipating another record year for its $100 billion a year tourism industry, is expected to rebound in time for the peak winter travel months, Moody's Analytics said earlier this week. Walt Disney Co reopened its Orlando Disney World theme park on Sept. 12. The Florida Keys, however, wrestled with more severe storm damage. [nL2N1LR0N1] [nF9N1L0029] [nL2N1LS1HW] Some travel companies said they are still assessing the situation and had not made firm decisions about rerouting ships. Tour operator Virgin Holidays said that it was beginning to return to regular operations in Antigua, despite damage to some properties on the island. "Antigua wasn't as badly damaged as we feared, and we have reopened tourism there, although three resorts are currently not on sale because of the damage," a spokesman for Virgin Atlantic said. "Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia are three big tourist examples that were not impacted." However, the small island of Saint Martin, which France shares with the Netherlands, could miss out on much of its tourism season. French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday vowed to swiftly rebuild the islands of the French Caribbean, including Saint Martin, and a French public reinsurance body estimated a cost of at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) from the damage there and in Saint Barthelemy. [nL2N1LT1SF] [nL5N1LQ09G] Hurricane Irma badly damaged many hotels on the island, such as AccorHotels Mercure hotel. A spokeswoman for Accor said that while nobody had been hurt, the hotel would be closed until Jan. 8 at least. While 70 hotel rooms remain operational, they are being used to house military forces and other staff that are supporting the relief effort. AccorHotels is offering cancellation and reimbursement for those who had booked stays at the hotel. (Reporting by Alistair Smout in London; Additional reporting by Dominique Vidalon in Paris; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
- The Hill
China on Tuesday said it will “safeguard its legitimate rights and interests” in the aftermath of the United States shooting down the balloon suspected of conducting surveillance in the country. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that the “unmanned airship” did not pose any threat to the U.S. and entered the country’s airspace by…
There's one line her critics agreed with — but probably not in the way she was hoping.
Britney Spears Took Some Bikini Pics In A London Hotel Room, And She Looks Like She's Having The Best Time
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- Yahoo Sports
A woman reportedly filed a complaint against Irvin after an encounter in a hotel lobby Sunday.
- The Hill
Parents are calling for action after video captured the brutal beating of a teen at a high school in California.
- Fox News
Valerie Bertinelli is sharing how much weight she's lost after cutting out one thing for a whole month.
The Royal Family is Reportedly Offering These Generous Incentives to Entice Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Into Attending King Charles III’s Coronation
After several years of tension and private disagreements followed by one tell-all interview with Oprah, an unprecedented exclusive series with Netflix, and a bombshell memoir, King Charles is reportedly doing everything he can to sweeten the deal for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to attend his coronation in May. According to The Mail on Sunday, […]
We Finally Know the Exact Reason Why the Royal Family Has Reportedly Chosen Not to Address Any of Prince Harry's Bombshell Allegations
After Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare, came out on Jan. 10, royal watchers were waiting for King Charles III and the rest of the palace to react. Instead of speaking out, the press was met with a wall of silence — and that, apparently, was a very pointed strategy chosen by the royal family. Valentine Low, […]
The seat filler next to Ben Affleck and J.Lo at the Grammys is speaking out.
- Fox News
Speechwriting experts say Biden made a good faith effort at promoting bipartisanship in his State of the Union, but did not confront the China threat as aggressively as he should have.
In case you’ve missed it: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Co.), who don’t seem to realize that they are two sides of the same terrible coin, have been very publicly at war with each other for some time now. And that war continued apace on Tuesday with Boebert once again mocking Greene—this time for carrying a large white balloon around the U.S. Capitol all day ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address to symbolize the so-called “Chinese spy balloon” that the military
- LA Times
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told Shaquille O'Neal he was on his side despite concerns the former Lakers captain never gave O'Neal advice during his career.
White Witch? Cruella? Pennywise? The Republican congresswoman's critics have some thoughts.
- Country Living
Sarah McLachlan's Super Bowl ad for Busch Light is being called a "masterpiece." Watch it here.
Can astrology predict who will win the 2023 Super Bowl? This is what the stars have to say about match between the Eagles and the Chiefs and who will win.
- Broncos Wire
"Just know that we’re working, but with a little bit less visibility on social media and all those other things," Sean Payton said.
- Business Insider
Kim Jong Un abruptly reappears after 36 days out of the spotlight and orders North Korea to 'prepare for war'
Kim Jong Un returned from one of his longest-ever breaks from public view to attend a military meeting on Monday.
- The Courier Journal
Kentucky's loss to Arkansas marked the second-largest margin of defeat the Wildcats have suffered at Rupp Arena under John Calipari.
- USA TODAY Opinion
President Joe Biden came out with vim and vigor in the State of the Union address and mopped the House floor with the Republican Party's remains.
The former president turned his supposed rebuttal of Biden's speech into an acrid campaign rant.