In harrowing times of devastation, our efforts are best spent helping those who need it most. With endless resources to give, companies such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line are seeing their potential impact and, therefore, made a substantial difference for hundreds of Hurricane Dorian survivors through recruiting the assistance of their very own cruise line cast members.
Though expected to directly hit Florida or US’s east coast, Hurricane Dorian wreaked the worst of its havoc on the Caribbean. With 54 documented lost lives, 1,300 still registered as unaccounted for, and 45% of homes on the island left destroyed or severely damaged; the category 5 storm left the beautiful northwestern Bahamas unrecognizable.
Thankfully, the weeks following the storm have been filled with countless acts of generosity from close neighbors of the Bahamas and those who had the means to contribute towards the cause. Large corporations, celebrities, and relief organizations continue sending their funds and resources. Relief efforts are fully underway for the thousands affected by the disaster, including the great need for organization of the incoming supplies on the islands. The cruise ship community additionally rose higher, with the Bahamas being a very close acquaintance and common visiting location. Multiple cruise lines were involved in large hurricane relief efforts including Norwegian, Bahamas Paradise, Celebrity, Disney, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean’s hurricane relief efforts didn’t stop at donating $1 million to the cause, a common pledge matched by many of the other cruise lines. The cruise line began its relief volunteering plan once the waters were safe to enter, picking up refugees needing medical attention or shelter. Before entering the port, the cast and crew of the Mariner of the Seas, among multiple other Royal Caribbean ships, began preparing meals for those in need. After working from 10AM to 4PM in their largest hall, they were able to send 10,000 meals to the Freeport Bahamas port.
With the theater housing the island’s refugees, that day’s tech rehearsals were performed one step further, into full-scale productions for the people of Freeport. The on-board entertainment casts performed their shows, “Gallery of Dreams” and “Center Stage,” exclusively for two groups of 350 Bahamian evacuees.
Mariner of the Seas dancer, Anne Kula, recalls the memorable and emotional day, “We didn’t have much notice, but we didn’t need it. This was for people who had gone through such tragedy.” Following the performances, the cast met with the evacuees, including an entire front row of children. “There were so many children. Young girls told me how much they loved dancing and how much they wanted to be dancing on a stage someday.”
While the cast was honored to have the opportunity to bring moments of happiness through entertainment into a disaster-struck location, meeting the refugees brought a greater light to those performing. “These were people who had just left their destroyed homes in Grand Bahamas… I met so many people, and what they all had in common was their high spirits. It was a life lesson for myself and my fellow singers and dancers.”
After spending time giving back to Hurricane Dorian survivors, Kula left the experience reminded of everything there was to be thankful for, including her position and beloved company. “Royal Caribbean has gone above and beyond to help the people of the Bahamas and I am more than proud to say that I am Royal.”photos © Annie Kula