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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Thoughts on the Bahamas after Dorian

With Hurricane Dorian being stalled over the northern Bahamas in the past couple of days, it has been making me think about my first cruise in 2004. Freeport was the last port on an itinerary that included Labadee, Haiti; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Georgetown, Grand Cayman. It had been many years that I had been dreaming of going on a cruise. The Stars finally lined up and in 2004 we sailed on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas. The group traveling included my immediate family, my in-laws, and a friend of one of my daughters.

We sailed out of Cape Liberty, New Jersey. It was exciting to sell under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge where we had the fun of  "wondering" if the ship would fit under the bridge. When it did, everybody on deck cheered.

The itinerary was a mixed bag of economies.  Sailing into Labadee, I got quite a culture shock.  As we were coming into the bay, we could see people sailing small, rustic boats as they took their places for a day's work, serving the guests of Voyager.  Labadee is part of Haiti, which is a very poor country. Even though most of the people on the island where employees of Royal Caribbean, the poor economy was quite obvious. People were begging us to purchase paintings and other art items that they had made.

Jamaica has better economic situation than Haiti, but it was still quite annoying to have people constantly begging us to buy something or go for a taxi ride in Ocho Rios. Grand Cayman was the complete opposite. There is a lot of money in Grand Cayman. We purchased excursions in the first three ports.

We didn't go anywhere in Freeport except for the immediate cruise port area since it was the last port on the itinerary. So it's with those thoughts in mind that I'm thinking about the people of the Bahamas in general and Freeport in particular. The pictures of the flooding in the Bahamas that have been coming back so far are quite devastating. I can't begin to imagine what it must be like for those people. I hope for the best for them.

Paul Pakusch
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