Cruise lines MSC and Royal Caribbean canceled the stops for the MSC Seaside and Celebrity Equinox cruises, respectively, today, as thousands are expected to march in San Juan demanding Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation.
The ships scheduled to arrive in the afternoon and leave San Juan at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., respectively, Puerto Rico Tourism Co. Executive Director Carla Campos said.
The economic impact that Puerto Rico would have received from the arrival of the MSC Seaside is estimated at $439,000 and the Celebrity Equinox at $311,000, she said.
The cruise lines canceled their stops as local companies that have agreements with them to provide excursion services canceled most of the scheduled trips. Furthermore, the companies reportedly expressed concern about the manifestations that could happen in Old San Juan during the evening, she said.
This is the second round of cancellations by cruise ship operators that visit San Juan as part of their routes. Last week, two ships — the Harmony of the Seas and the Empress of the Seas —changed their plans to arrive to the island.
The Tourism Co. has offered several alternatives to the cruise lines so they can make their stops in Puerto Rico, Campos said.
One option has been the Muelle Panamericano, which has a depth of some 32 feet. Large vessels that dock at Piers 3 and 4 in Old San Juan require approximately 34 feet deep due to their drafts. So, “the alternative is not viable for some of the vessels that have cancelled,” she said.
As for diverting to the Ponce port, the companies are said to be evaluating their itineraries.
Most of the cruise ships that arrive at the port of San Juan leave from Miami and arrive on the island in the afternoon of their third day at sea. Detouring the ships to Ponce would imply that they would arrive at night (between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.) and would have to set sail at dawn (between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.) to arrive at their next destination the following morning.
So, this proposal has not been a feasible alternative for three of the four ships that have canceled their stops, including the Harmony of the Seas, the MSC Seaside and the Celebrity Equinox.
“No cancellations have yet been reported for transit stops scheduled for the rest of the week. The Tourism Co. keeps in constant contact with the cruise lines evaluating case by case and trying to safeguard all the aspects related to the experience of the visitors,” Campos said, adding that the accumulated losses so far from the cancellations is estimated at $2.5 million from the money some 15,000 passengers will not spend during their visit.